AUSTIN, Texas - The Longhorns were every bit as advertised.
Texas, ranked as high as 21st in this week's NCAA Division I polls, used a 9-0 run in the first half to break open a close game in a 85-52 victory over Eastern Washington University in a non-conference game Thursday (Nov. 17) in Austin, Texas. The game is a part of the Legends Classic presented by the Gazelle Group.
Eastern junior Bogdan Bliznyuk had his second-straight 20-point effort with 22 against Texas, but the powerful Longhorns had five players in double figures. The Big 12 Conference foe made 11 3-pointers compared to just three for the Eagles.
"They are a legitimate top 25 team with young talent -- they have tremendous athletes," said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. "For a team like us to come in here and do well against a team like that, we have to have great cohesiveness. We're just too early in the process. The joy of coaching is putting a team together so that you can do that."
"Bogdan held his own and we're really proud of him. (Freshman Mason Peatling) came off the bench again and gave us great minutes. Those were two bright spots that stick out to me."
The Eagles return home to face Bryant (8-23/5-13 Northeast Conference last season) on Nov. 21 in the Cheney Sub-Regional of the Legends Classic, followed by Seattle (13-15/7-7 Western Athletic Conference) or Louisiana Monroe (20-14/15-5 Sun Belt) on Nov. 22. Eastern will play in the 6:05 p.m. game both nights, with the Nov. 21 winners and losers pairing off against each other on the 22nd.
On Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 26 and 27), the Eagles will host the Eastern Washington Classic at Reese Court. The Eagles will again travel the nation by playing teams from 13 different leagues. Eastern's schedule includes four teams which appeared in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and four others who joined EWU last year in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI).
Texas is ranked 23rd this week in the Associated Press Poll and 21st in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Eastern was playing against a ranked opponent for the 24th time in school history, having registered its lone victory on Nov. 15, 2001, when EWU beat No. 10 St. Joseph's 68-67.
"The beauty of being Division I is to be able to play these games," added Hayford. "When we play well and represent well it's a beautiful thing. When it's not, it kind of shows you what it's like between us and the big boys and what we have to do to close the gap. That's what we'll put our energy into."
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