The basketball season is starting to kick into gear. Tonight, elsewhere, Kentucky plays Michigan and Duke faces Kansas. But take some time to flip channels a bit to the Longhorn Network, to catch Rick Barnes' squad in their second game of the season against South Alabama.
While this isn't Kentucky vs. Michigan State, it could still be a hotly contested game. Earlier in the day, I posted some thoughts on South Alabama. The keys questions for me in tonight's game are:
1. Can Texas continue to hit its outside shots? The Longhorns were 7-15 from three point range last Friday. Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes, Connor Lammert, Damarcus Croaker, and Martez Walker all hit shots from outside. The game get much easier, and scoring comes more readily, when you make threes.
2. Will Texas continue to give up open looks from three? The Mercer Bears went 10-30 from long range in the season opener, with nearly half of their attempts coming from beyond the arc. Antoine Allen, Aakim Saintill, and Ken Williams will let it fly if given the chance.
3. Will Ridley build upon his strong first game? Ridley played well in the season opener, blocking five shots, grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring eight points, although his counterpart in that game Daniel Coursey managed to score 14 points with decent efficiency numbers. Tonight Ridley and the rest of the Texas big men face an entirely different sort of challenge in Augustine Rubit.
4. Who will win the turnover battle? I am always sceptical of young guards' abilities to protect the rock, particularly early in the season, and this game will be one where most of the ball handling on both sides is done by freshmen and sophomores. In the first game of the season Isaiah Taylor and company kept Texas' turnover rate to less than 18 percent, while the young South Alabama guards turned the ball over in around 21 percent of their possessions.
Kenpom.com projects Texas to win this game 72-66. I don't have a good feel for this team yet, so I will go with that for a prediction.