November 1, 2007

Texas backcourt ranks up there with the best

If the Longhorns are to have the type of season possible, the play of D.J. Augustin, A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason will be key, especially early on while the new additions to the interior get acclimated to the college game. Last season, the trio combined to average 37.5 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists per game with an assist to turnover ratio of 1.67:1. Throw in 200 three pointers made at 42.1 percent combined and it's easy to see why the Longhorn backcourt is being talked about as one of the top 10 in college basketball.

The talented trio improved on its numbers in Big 12 play in the rebounds and assists per game even though Mason was fighting through a pair of nagging injuries the last few games. The three guards still combined to average 36.4 points per game.

If the old saying proves true that players make their most improvement from freshman to sophomore year, Longhorn fans have reason to be excited about the prospects of a backcourt with sophomores Augustin and Mason as well as an experienced Abrams. If early reports from the program materialize, Mason will be the Longhorns' most improved player, followed closely by Augustin.

Augustin turned in a terrific freshman season for the Longhorns, earning conference and national recognition. The 5-foot-11 floor general averaged 14.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. In Big 12 play, Augustin improved on all of his season averages. He scored a career-high 31 points against Iowa State, averaged 24 points, four rebounds and six assists against Texas A&M in two games and turned in a 19 point, 13 assists performance in a 90-86 loss at Kansas.

Augustin converted a very impressive 83.8 percent from the free throw line and got to the line 179 times in 35 games a year ago. He also converted 44.1 percent from the three point line making 45 of 102. If there was a negative, it was the fact that Augustin had to play 35.6 minutes per game and had the appearance of tired player the last couple of weeks of the season.

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