AUSTIN (AP) — Andrew Jones knew he would receive significant playing time as a Texas freshman this season.
Jones, after all, was a big-time recruit on a team that lost all five starters from last season. Jones knew something else.
“I had to grow up quickly,” he said. “It’s not high school basketball.”
Jones, like most of his teammates, has struggled. But the Longhorns’ point guard appears to be making a breakthrough. Jones produced 16 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals during a 96-60 victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Wednesday night.
That performance came one game after Jones had 17 points, seven assists and three steals during a 77-74 loss to Arkansas on Saturday.
Jones converted 6 of 9 shots, including four 3-pointers. Tevin Mack scored 18 for Texas, Jarrett Allen had 16, and Kendal Yancy added 14.
Dirk Williams led UAB (6-6) with 13 points.
Texas coach Shaka Smart has four freshmen and three sophomores in his nine-player rotation. As Texas has struggled to a 6-5 start, Smart has encouraged them to trust the process.
“They have to trust each other,” Smart said. “I can tell them that every day, but it’s something you have to learn and go through.”
The Longhorns have been most deficient on offense, where they rank last in the Big 12 in several categories. Burt against UAB they hit 53.7 percent of their field goals, 12 of 29 3-pointers and all 12 free throws.
Texas used its pressure defense to induce 18 UAB turnovers, including six steals by Texas guard Kerwin Roach Jr.
“Their pressure bothered us,” UAB coach Robert Ehsan said. “They made a lot of threes. It felt like 25 threes. Coming off the Arkansas loss, they came out today with a very good mindset. We did not answer very well.”
UAB: Chris Cokley, the Blazers’ leading scorer and second-best rebounder this season, went to the bench with two fouls with 6:56 left in the first half. Texas, leading by three points at the time, made a 12-0 push with Cokley on the bench and took a 43-27 halftime lead. Cokley finished with two points, 10.5 fewer than his average.
Texas: Sophomore Eric Davis Jr., a 38 percent 3-point shooter as a freshman, began the UAB game with an 18 percent accuracy mark this season — 9 for 50.
Smart said Davis, a backup guard, has developed confidence issues. Davis did nothing to rectify that when he entered the game in the first half and soon committed a turnover before fouling Hakeem Baxter on a 3-point shot. But Davis gathered himself and hit two straight 3-pointers during the 12-0 run.
TEXAS NEEDS TO MAKE A MOVE
The Longhorns have a lot of work to do if they hope to reach the NCAA Tournament for the 18th time in the last 19 seasons. Ranked No. 21 in preseason, they are 1-4 against opponents from Power Five conferences. None of those teams is ranked.
UBA hosts Miles College on Dec. 28.
Texas hosts Kent State on Tuesday.
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