The Longhorns and Bobcats will tip off on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. CT at the Erwin Center in Austin, with the game televised nationally on the Longhorn Network.
After coughing up what should have been a momentum-building win over UCLA, the Longhorns find themselves behind the eight ball, still in search of their first marquee win of the year. They'll get that opportunity in the next two games against North Carolina and Michigan State, but first they'll have to run the floor on Saturday night as Doug Davalos brings Texas State and his version of "40 minutes of Hell" to Austin.
As usual, Davalos' Bobcats are playing at one of the fastest tempos in the country, with their games averaging about 75 possessions for each team. They are going to press, they are going to run, and they are not going to stop doing either one for 40 minutes.
Although only 4-5 thus far to start the season, Texas State is more dangerous than their resume implies, in part because they dictate the style of play but also because they're an experienced team with length on the perimeter. Replacing Brooks Ybarra has been the impossible task it was assured to be, but the Bobcats aren't starting completely over, anchored in the middle by junior center Matt Staff and enjoying a breakout season from senior point guard Vonn Jones.
The match up with Texas State makes you particularly nervous as a Longhorns fan for the obvious reason: turnovers. We all saw what happened when UCLA finally got around to pressing Texas in the final minutes last Saturday, and the Bobcats will be doing the same right from the opening tip. If Texas can't take care of the basketball on Saturday evening, this is absolutely a game that Texas State can win.
With that said, other than the meltdown in the final three minutes, I liked what I saw from this young group of Longhorns against UCLA and with four practices this week to continue working, I'm expecting -- or hopeful, at least -- to see us play with confidence and poise. This is a game for Sheldon McClellan to dominate more so than Cameron Ridley (who will be somewhat limited by the pace of the game), and for the team to dominate at the free throw line. If Texas attacks the rim, they should shoot 40+ free throws tonight, and if they can hit a few for once, should win the game.
Keys to the Game
* Be poised against the press, limit turnovers
* Shoot free throws, not three pointers (and make a few for once)
* McClellan attacks on offense like Texas State has no ability to stop him without fouling
Texas 81 Texas State 70