The Texas Longhorns opened the season with a ranking of 25th in the nation. They're looking to rebound on last season's disappointing opening-round loss in the NCAA tournament, where Wake Forest dispatched them on a last-second shot by guard Ishmael Smith.
The Longhorns started last season 18-0, en route to the top ranking in the polls. They lost 10 out of their last 17 games, though, and dropped out of the top 25 altogether before being knocked out of the NCAA tournament early.
Gone are leading scorer Damion James and starting guard Avery Bradley. Gone is star big man Dexter Pittman, now with the Miami Heat. The Longhorns lost three key players to the NBA draft and now look to reload, rather than rebuild, for the 2010-2011 season.
The Longhorns roster looks different this season, but they hope to come away with a better result. Freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph are now starters and will be key players this season. Gary Johnson and Dogus Balbay will also start, though many Longhorn fans would much rather see the more talented J'Covan Brown start at the point.
The Longhorns, however, will rely on Jordan Hamilton this season. Hamilton can score at will. When he is hot is unguardable, and he can drain threes from anywhere inside half court.
The Longhorns will need an outstanding season from Hamilton in order to compete against the better teams this season. In the season opener, Hamilton did not disappoint, going for 26 points, 10 rebounds and recording a double-double. Gary Johnson also provided a double-double.
The Longhorns opened the season at home, facing Navy in the opening round of the 2K Sports Classic. The Longhorns got off to a sluggish start, letting Navy stay in the game in the first half. The Longhorns were playing with four new starters, so the poor start was not inexplicable. The Longhorns only led 29-20 at the half, and many Longhorns fans were worried that it might be a repeat of last season.
Their worries were short-lived, though, as the Longhorns used a 23-9 run early in the second half to pull away from the Midshipmen. The Longhorns cruised to a 83-52 victory, and they were never in any danger in the second half.
Despite having the talented outside shooting of Hamilton and Brown, the Longhorns struggled from behind the arc, only shooting 4-17 on three pointers.
With this win, Texas Coach Rick Barnes is at 497 wins, three shy of 500.
The Longhorns look to improve on their ranking of 25th. The Longhorns can be contenders in the Big 12, contend for another Big 12 title, and maybe even advance to the Final Four, but they will need Hamilton, Brown, and freshmen Joseph and Thompson to be on their games.
It will be an entertaining season in Austin, for sure.
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