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Texas begins Australia trip with exhibition against Dandenong Rangers

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The Longhorns play their first game of the Australian tour at 4 am CST.

Big 12 Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Get that cup of coffee ready.

The first glimpse of Shaka Smart's 2017-2018 Texas Longhorn team will take place on Tuesday at 4 am CST.

In the first game of Texas' Australia trip, the 'Horns will face the Schweppes Dandenong Rangers, one of the top teams in Australia's semi-pro South East Australian Basketball League.

The Rangers are fresh off of an SEABL quarter final victory Saturday, a 92-91 nail biter against NW Tasmania. The Rangers have a semi-final match-up on August 18, so they will undoubtably use their game against Texas as valuable preparation for the playoffs.

The Rangers are mainly comprised of Australian native players, many of whom played college basketball in the states at varying levels. Tim Lang, a 6'9 center, played for Division 1 Stetson University from 2006 to 2009 and led the Hatters in blocks his junior and senior year.

Josh Oswald played forward at Miami (OH), and Jorden Page played shooting guard at St. Mary's.

Despite not having any former high major division 1 players on the roster, the Rangers are more than capable of defeating the 'Horns. Last August, the Rangers defeated the Washington Huskies 100-96 in an exhibition game.

More important than the final score is discovering the strengths and weaknesses of this season's team, and seeing how the team gels compared to last year.

Here's what to watch for in Texas' first game down under:

Will Texas' front court dominate?

Five-star freshman Mo Bamba has rightfully received plenty of attention due to his ridiculous, nearly eight foot wingspan that helps make him a dominant rim protector.

Bamba has significantly more size than anyone on the Rangers, should record a plethora of blocks and rebounds during the Longhorns' tour.

However, it may be even more important that he works on his offensive game during the trip. Bamba has shown off a surprisingly solid shooting touch during off-season practices, and it is crucial that he continues to build off of that to become a star on both sides of the ball.

Tulane transfer Dylan Osetkowski will also be incredibly valuable to the 'Horns' frontcourt this season. Osetkowski, who averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in his sophomore season at Tulane, sat out for Texas last year per transfer rules.

The now redshirt junior has improved his conditioning and three point stroke since coming to Austin and could be Texas' anchor this season.

Don't be surprised if Osetkowski's numbers pop out on the stat sheet during the trip. He could emerge as a leader on this young and jet-lagged Texas team.

How will Texas shoot from three?

The SEABL league uses an NBA three-point line, which means the 'Horns won't get a great idea of where they stand from the college arc.

Still, how well the Longhorns shoot will be a key narrative for the Australia trip. Texas shot a dismal 29.2% from deep in the 2016-2017 season, and that number needs to significantly improve for the 'Horns to be competitive with the heavy weights of the Big 12.

Incoming freshman Jase Febres is an excellent shooter who could become part of Texas' rotation if he can bring his stroke to the college level. Something to watch for will be how Febres performs compared to junior Eric Davis, as the two could be competing for playing time at guard.

Osetkowski and even Bamba could also channel their inner Connor Lambert and nail a three. If the 'Horns bigs shoot well, it can open up space for the athletic offense to get to the bucket.

Is Matt Coleman ready to carry the load point guard?

Freshman Matt Coleman has plenty of pressure on his shoulders, as he needs to be the answer to the point guard troubles Texas had last season.

Coleman, a four-star prospect who also considered Duke, is a natural floor general whose speed and playmaking abilities make him primed to carry the load at point guard this season.

The big question will be how well Coleman can avoid growing pains and freshman mistakes this season. He will face a significant test against a seasoned team of experienced players in the Rangers.

Coleman must avoid the turnovers that plagued Texas last season, and be a reliable leader for the team on both sides of the ball.


Other developments to watch for:

How dominant can Andrew Jones be and will he step up immediately as Texas' leading scorer?

Will freshman forward Jericho Sims be extremely raw, or will his athleticism allow him to be an immediate contributor?

Is Kerwin Roach is on track to bounce back for a solid junior year?


So, who is ready to wake up early (or stay up late) to watch Texas basketball? A YouTube stream which will show the game live during game time is below. Hook 'em!