Roach finds spark as Texas crushes Grand Canyon, 98-60
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — When it comes to long-distance shooting, Texas isn’t the most confident team, so a good start can provide self-assurance.
On Saturday, the Longhorns started fast and kept going, making a season-best 16 3-point baskets while defeating Grand Canyon 98-60.
Texas (7-3) also had season-bests with 22 assists and 58.7 shooting percentage (37 of 63) from the field.
Coming in, Texas ranked 294h nationally with 30.4 percent 3-point accuracy. The Longhorns shot 53.3 percent (16 for 30) against Grand Canyon.
“If they come out and shoot like that, they can beat any team in the country,” Grand Canyon coach Dan Majerle said.
Jase Febres and Eli Mitrou-Long led Texas with 16 points apiece, and Courtney Ramey made a season-best eight assists. Febres hit 4 of 10 3-pointers, and Mitrou-Long converted all three of his attempts.
When it was suggested to coach Shaka Smart that accuracy early gets his players going, he said “Unfortunately, the opposite of that is true as well. So it helps when shots start falling early and guys feel a rhythm and confidence.”
Kerwin Roach had 15 points and five assists for Texas in a rare appearance as a reserve. Roach was benched for the start because he was late for a film session.
Roach started the previous eight games after missing the season opener due to a suspension for violation of team rules. He scored a career-best 32 points in a win over No. 12 North Carolina on November 22 but converted just 9 of 43 shots in his next four games. He hit 6 of 8 shots against Grand Canyon. He thought maybe watching Grand Canyon’s defense for the first three-plus minutes from the bench might have helped.
“You get to see what they are doing out there,” Roach said.
Tim Finke led Grand Canyon (5-5) with a season best 17 points, and Carlos Johnson scored 13.
Roach entered the game with 16:29 remaining the first half. He played 15 minutes during the period, as much as any of the Longhorns. Roach converted all five of his shots in the half, scoring 12 points while producing four assists.
Texas led 56-30 at the break.
“There’s no way I thought I thought we’d get beat like this,” Majerle said. “We’ve got a pretty good team. We got punched in the mouth early and for whatever reason we couldn’t fight back. It just never stopped.”
Grand Canyon: The Lopes lost by single-digits to No. 7 Nevada and to Seton Hall - which beat No. 19 Kentucky. They led Seton Hall by two with a little more than a minute remaining. But they were never in the game against Texas. Grand Canyon is now 0-12 against opponents from Power Five conferences. They became an NCAA Division I program in 2013-14. Only one of those 12 games were played at home in Phoenix -- against Louisville in 2016.
Texas: Though it’s far from a trend, the Longhorns shot 3-pointers well for the second straight game. They hit 11 of 25 (44.0 percent) during a win against Purdue. Perhaps proving Majerle’s point about how good the Longhorns can be when shooting well, they hit 11 of 24 3-pointers against North Carolina.
Speaking of the Grand Canyon game, Smart said “They did a good job first and foremost sharing the basketball, creating good shots for each other.”
TRUE TO FORM
Grand Canyon is 5-0 when it outrebounds opponents. The Lopes are 0-5 when losing the battle on the boards, including a 42-25 beating against Texas.
Grand Canyon is at Northern Iowa for the first time on Wednesday.
Texas faces Providence on Friday in Austin. They’ve met five times, with Texas holding a 3-2 edge. Texas won the most recent game, 79-77 in 2004 in overtime.