Texas baptized the new Moody Center arena Wednesday night with a massive win in its first major test against a ranked opponent since the venue opened earlier this year. Behind a career night off Tyrese Hunter, who finished with 26 points, the Longhorns defeated #2 ranked Gonzaga in a 93-74 rout, showing their mettle as one of the best and funniest teams in college basketball.
Gonzaga stopped early and led for an extended period in the first half, but it quickly got behind the Zags as Longhorns fans lit up the arena to help their team take a 10-point halftime lead. Texas was never far behind and built its lead to as many as 23 in the second half before finishing with a 19-point lead from the victory. The loss was Gonzaga’s most lopsided by gross margin since a 23-point defeat against Arizona in March 2014.
Everything seemed to be going well for the Texans, and conversely, the wheels fell off the wagon (then the wagon was sitting on concrete blocks in the middle of the intersection) for Gonzaga. Texas rained 13 3rds on 33 attempts, didn’t miss a free throw until late (finishing 12-of-16 from the streak) and continually pressured the Zags for errors on the perimeter. This was the root of Gonzaga’s struggles: He hit 20 turnovers on the night — 11 of them in the first half — of which Texas turned 27. One change in particular was part of a frantic streak from Texas that nearly blew the lid off Moody’s centre.
Gonzaga coach Mark Fiew said in the preseason that he believes his team’s non-conference schedule was the most ambitious he can remember, and Wednesday was just one example of that challenge. It came just five days after surviving a carrier strike against Michigan State, and comes before a major game on November 20 against No. 4-ranked Kentucky.
With the win, Texas sets a program record for defeating a higher ranked AP opponent. His last win against a No. 2 ranked team in the AP came against rival Oklahoma in 2009.
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