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November 12, 2013

Texas Enjoys Comeback Win over South Alabama

One thing we know about the Longhorns (2-0) early in the season is they like to make it exciting.

After falling behind, this time by 17, again for the second straight game, Texas again rallied from a big deficit to knock off South Alabama (1-1) 84-77.

At the half, the Longhorns trailed 45-31 thanks to the Jaguars scorching-hot shooting from deep. South Alabama connected on 10-of-21 three-pointers in the first period, mostly against Texas' 1-3-1 zone look on defense.

However, the Longhorns came out more focused and with better effort in the second half. They also came out in man-to-man defense, which allowed them to start to better keep South Alabama's deep shooting (3-of-12 in the second half) in check.

"No, I think we changed when the attitude changed," responded Rick Barnes when asked if the switch from zone to man defense played a huge role. "I just don't think we were ready to start the game. We weren't ready offensively. We didn't move the ball. All you have to do is look at the rebounding in the first half. We didn't execute in the first half on the offensive end; it carried over to the defense. But the second half we come out, put more effort, energy into it and played together. I thought the way we came out of the locker room was big. We came out the way we needed to be; quick."

Prince Ibeh made a huge impact defensive, as did Demarcus Holland, who usually does.

"It made a big difference," Ibeh said about going to man-to-man in the second half. "It made it easier to contest the three-point line. I feel like that is where they did a lot of damage in the first half, especially when you are behind, it is hard to play a zone, so we really had no choice but to go man."

Ibeh challenged shots in the paint at a high rate without fouling, and even contested perimeter shots using his long range and rare quickness for a player his size.

Texas enjoyed a huge rebounding advantage of 17 in the second half, forced South Alabama into tougher shots, and executed at a higher level at their desired pace on offense. The result was 53 points for the Longhorns in the second half, including ending the game on a 20-5 run to get the victory.

"We weren't very good and the second half we started doing the things we have practiced," Barnes responded about the offense in the second half. "We are capable of doing that."

Jon Holmes had a monster of a night for the Longhorns. The junior scored 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting (4-of-7 from three-point range), grabbed nine rebounds (five offensive), blocked two shots, and added an assist and a steal.

His performance could be summed up in one huge play, and that was when Holmes aggressively blocked a hard layup attempt at the rim on one end, hit the floor in doing so, got up, sprinted back as the trailer in transition, was fed the rock, and drilled a three-pointer without hesitating at the top of the key.

"Jon Holmes is playing the way we know he is capable of playing," Barnes said about his junior big man.

As for Taylor, he provided the main competition for play of the night when he received a pass from Prince Ibeh, saw a defender standing near the other basket, turned on the jets, went full speed the length of the floor right at the defender, and made a contested layup with 1:51 left to put Texas up 79-77.

"When Prince gave me the ball, I just saw one defender in front of me," Taylor stated. "When I see one defender in front of me, I think 'attack.' All of the conditioning work we put in this summer, we live for these types of situations. I think we are one of the best conditioned teams in the country, and today I don't think we got tired down the stretch and that's why I made the play."

The freshman point guard finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3-of-6 from the free throw line) with four rebounds, five assists, two steals, and four turnovers. He scored 11 points in the second half with just one turnover.

Texas returns to action against Stephen F. Austin Friday night at 7:00 PM (Longhorn Network). If you want to read our 10 immediate thoughts and analysis after the game, click here .

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