The #8 Longhorns (5-0) are back in action tonight at the Erwin Center as they take on the Texas Southern Tigers (1-4) in their final tune up before Sunday’s match up with #1 UCLA. This one will be over quickly, so do what you’ve got to do to make the 7 PM tip. The game will not be televised but will be broadcast on KVET 98.1 FM & The Zone 1300 AM.
These two teams hooked up exactly this time last year for their first ever meeting. The Horns dominated the Tigers, 90-50, behind double digit scoring from Kevin Durant, AJ Abrams, and DJ Augustin.
If last year’s game wasn’t one-sided enough for you, tonight’s game could be worse. The Tigers enter this one on a four-game losing streak with their most recent disappointment coming at the hands of Billie Clyde Gillespie’s Wildcats, 83-35, last Saturday. Conversely, the Longhorns enter tonight’s contest on five game winning streak and, as we all celebrated, recently claimed the inaugural Legend’s Classic tourney title. Texas Southern is picked to finish at or near the bottom of the SWAC conference this year and hasn’t made the NCAA tourney since 2003, while the Longhorns were picked pre-season to finish at or near the top of the Big 12 conference and haven’t missed the NCAAs since the year before Rick Barnes arrived in Austin.
Further, the Tigers haven’t played a true home game this season, while the Horns have yet to play a true road game. Then, we have the height advantage. The Tigers have just two players taller than 6-3 and one of them, 6-6 Jacques Jones, who is also their best player, hasn’t played at all in their last two games. Last, the Tigers are currently ranked as the 271st best team in Division I by Ken Pomeroy, and the Horns are now ranked as the nation’s second best team.
Not surprisingly, the scouting report for Texas Southern via Pomeroy details a very bad team on both ends of the floor. The Tigers rank 250th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 264th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Among the many glaring numbers are the rebounding numbers for Texas Southern. The Tigers are terrible at securing offensive rebounds (320th in the country) and almost as bad at keeping their opponents off the offensive glass (304th in the country). Of course, these numbers aren’t that surprising given the heights of the Tiger starters. Even though Gary Johnson has still not been cleared to play, the Longhorns should have a field day this evening on the glass.
As mentioned by PB in the UCLA First Look, Pomeroy’s stats on the Longhorns reveal the most efficient offensive club in the country. The Horns have an amazing effective field goal percentage, which weights two and three point field goal percentages, of 65.7%, which is also the country’s best. Rick Barnes’s club is also doing a fantastic job protecting the ball and has the third lowest turnover percentage in the country.
The defensive numbers are solid but not outstanding. The Horns have had some difficulty keeping opponents off the offensive glass, have had trouble creating turnovers with pressure defense, and haven’t been able to defend the three-ball well this season, or last for that matter. Even with those warts, the Horns are still rated as the 44th best defensive club in the country.
Keys to the Game:
Show up. Execute. Stay Healthy.
Overall, Texas Southern is very small and very thin. If this one isn’t completely out of hand by halftime, it will only be because the Horns aren’t focused and could be looking ahead to the Bruins. Otherwise, the Longhorns should roll easily. Tonight is an excellent opportunity to play freshman Clint Chapman and Alexis "Wing Man" Wangmene for extended minutes and for DJ Augustin and AJ Abrams to rest. Bring on the Bruins!