First look at Bamba and Co. is im­pres­sive,

Horns flash ma­jor po­ten­tial against over­matched foe.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Brian Davis bdavis@states­man.com Con­tact Brian Davis at 512445-3957. Twit­ter: @BDav­isAAS

The can­vas doesn’t get any brighter, the slate can’t be any cleaner, than on open­ing night. The first mark­ings set the whole tone for what comes next.

The con­tours come in De­cem­ber, things take shape in Jan­uary, pol­ish and per­fec­tions come in Fe­bru­ary, and the pic­ture be­comes com­plete in March. What­ever hap­pens on a Fri­day night in mid-Novem­ber could mean ev­ery­thing. Or noth­ing.

Still, Texas passed the eye­ball test Fri­day night with a rol­lick­ing 105-59 sea­son-open­ing beat­down over North­west­ern State at the Er­win Cen­ter.

“Any­body want to trade places?” North­west­ern State coach Mike McConathy said. “My daddy used to say, ‘Son, that’s just a good ol’ coun­try butt-whoopin’.’”

A larger-than-ex­pected crowd of 9,516 fans, which in­cluded a strong stu­dent turnout, had to walk away im­pressed. The Horns walked around in style, that’s for sure. Nike pro­vided the team with spe­cial green shoes in honor of Vet­er­ans Day.

“That’s the style of play that we’ve been want­ing to play for, what we’ve been build­ing for,” sopho­more guard An­drew Jones said. “It showed tonight. And there’s only more to come.”

Sure, a lot of fans came to see fresh­man Mo Bamba, and he did not dis­ap­point. Bamba opened his one and only sea­son at Texas with a dunk and fin­ished with 15 points, eight re­bounds and four blocks in 23 min­utes.

But this team is more than one 6-11 star cen­ter, and that was the clear take­away.

“Last year, you saw Jar­rett (Allen) just get bet­ter and bet­ter and bet­ter,” coach Shaka Smart said. “But we didn’t have enough around him in terms of guys con­tribut­ing at a high enough level to win­ning.”

Dy­lan Osetkowski, the trans­fer from Tu­lane, posted his first dou­ble-dou­ble with 13 points and 10 re­bounds. His turn­around jumper, run­ning put-back slam and 3-pointer were all im­pres­sive.

“I’m just try­ing to bring a level of hus­tle, spirit, ev­ery­thing, re­bound­ing,” Osetkowski said. “My abil­ity to shoot the ball is only go­ing to get bet­ter from here.”

The guard play cer­tainly looked bet­ter. Fresh­man Matt Cole­man had 11 points and seven as­sists. He ri­fled a pass in­side to Bamba for a would-be dunk, but Bamba got raked.

Cole­man’s pres­ence helped UT’s core guards play bet­ter. Jones had 14 points and looked com­fort­able shoot­ing be­yond the arc and driv­ing home for a slam. Ker­win Roach Jr. had 10 points and four as­sists. Eric Davis Jr. swished a 3-pointer from the right wing. He played only nine min­utes due to a groin in­jury suf­fered two days ago in prac­tice.

It’s also ap­par­ent this Texas team has depth, some­thing that was sorely lack­ing dur­ing last year’s 11-22 cam­paign. Jase Fe­bres hit three 3-point­ers and fin­ished with 13 points. Jeri­cho Sims had five re­bounds and showed hus­tle.

This team has some­thing. But again, it’s a long, grind­ing process to reach a fin­ished prod­uct.

“We’ve worked hard for this all sum­mer long and pre­sea­son,” Jones said, “and now we’re ready to show this is what we’re about and this is the cul­ture at Texas.”

CON­TRIB­UTED BY ERICH SCH­LEGEL

UT for­ward Jeri­cho Sims had five re­bounds off the bench dur­ing Fri­day’s opener against North­west­ern State at the Er­win Cen­ter.

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