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Texas basketball opens season with 71-59 win over Eastern Illinois

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Texas basketball opened the 4th year of the Shaka Smart era with a 71-59 victory over Eastern Illinois. The Longhorns had 11 players log minutes and featured a balanced scoring attack with only Matt Coleman and Jaxson Hayes registering double figures. Coleman entered the 2018 season with big expectations following a solid freshman season, and the sophomore delivered with a team high 13 points and 7 assists. Hayes shined in his Texas debut and has the makings of a player who can become a star if he reaches his fullest potential.

Eastern Illinois hung with the Longhorns for most of the first half before Texas went on a 13-3 run to head into halftime with a 38-28 lead. The second half featured a lot of mixing and matching for Smart, who at one time had 4 freshman playing together. Junior Andrew Jones also made an emotional return to the court after a long battle with Leukemia. The Irving native logged 9 minutes in his return and collected his only point of the night on a made free throw.

During his media availability last week, Smart talked about wanting to be more efficient and play faster on offense. The results were mixed on opening night, with Texas shooting 50% from the field, but only 32% from deep and a dreadful 55% from the free throw line. Smart also can not be happy with the Longhorns performance on the glass, where they surrendered 10 offensive rebounds and only out-rebounded the Panthers 35 to 34.

Without senior G Kerwin Roach, who was serving a one game suspension for violating team rules, Texas leaned heavily on Elijah Mitrou-Long, who was forced to sit out the 2017 season after transferring from Mount St. Mary’s. In his Longhorns debut, Mitrou-Long finished with 9 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.

The Longhorns will welcome back Roach on Friday night when they travel to El Paso to play Arkansas in the Armed Forces Classic. The game will tip off at 6 PM and be broadcasted on ESPN.

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Jameson McCausland is originally from Frisco, Texas, where he grew up a Longhorn fan. His two favorite sports are football and baseball, both of which he covers for HornSports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends in his spare time. Jameson is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

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