The Texas Longhorns basketball team takes the hardwood tonight as the Sam Houston State Bearkats return to Austin for the first time since 2003. The Bearkats are 2-0 on the season, opening the season with wins over Mary Hardin Baylor and Nortwhest Oklahoma. Texas fans may remember Sam Houston St. from last year, when they went 25-8, won the Southland Conference, and pushed Baylor in the opening round of the NCAA tournament before losing 68-59.
Sam Houston St. lost three seniors off that team, but return three of their four top-rated offensive players among those who played regularly last year. Gilberto Clavelle, Justin Crow, and Lance Pevehouse are all averaging double-digit points per game, while the Bearkats again look to do a superior job defending and clearing the glass.
The Bearkats aren't a particularly big squad, but they're athletic, active, and well-coached defensively. They're comfortable playing a deliberate pace, but prefer a more fluid and up tempo game. I wouldn't be surprised to see them push the pace with us a little bit, but as Illinois found out, that's not something we mind one bit. The Bearkats would do better to bring this one to a grind and force us to execute in the halfcourt, something at which we're vastly improved, but still growing into.
Sam Houston St. is not a highly skilled offensive team - more a collection of good athletes with excellent quickness, a match up that Texas should handle relatively well, provided we play strong transition defense and disallow second looks. Take care of those two facets of the game, and the Bearkats are outmatched.
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: Fox Sports SW (Texas residents only)
Radio: 1300 AM / 98.1 FM