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Texas basketball set to play an intriguing non-conference schedule

Visits from VCU, Purdue, and Providence highlight the home schedule, while the Horns will also travel to Las Vegas.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Basketball Media Day Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns basketball fans are going to love the 2018-19 non-conference schedule.

That’s right, Longhorns fans, we at Burnt Orange Nation know that nobody shows up at home games like Texas basketball fans, and this year will be no different.

Let me just put it this way — if you’re a wide-eyed freshman on the Forty Acres, you’ll be lucky if you’re able to make it to a game inside The Drum this season.

Obviously, tickets to the nine Texas Big 12 Conference home games this season have been sold out for years. But here’s a dash of hope for those of you already camping out in line at the ticket window at the Frank Erwin Center, desperate to make it into the building to see some Longhorns hoops this season — the non-conference schedule is a good one.

Okay, but seriously, Texas needs more students and fans at its home games, especially for non-conference games.

This year, Texas will face 12 non-conference opponents before Big 12 Conference play begins, with a trip to Georgia later in the season for the Big 12 vs. SEC Challenge. In fact, nine of the 13 non-conference games will be played at home and there are some pretty intriguing contests slated for the start of the 2018-19 season.

Texas fans can feed their ravenous, insatiable hunger for dominant basketball at the season opener on Nov. 6 when the Longhorns host Eastern Illinois.

The Longhorns will travel to Fort Bliss in El Paso on Nov. 9 to take on former Southwest Conference foe Arkansas in the Armed Forces Classic, Texas’ first nationally televised game of the season on ESPN.

The Las Vegas Invitational will tip off with two games in Austin against Louisiana Monroe and The Citadel on Nov. 12 and Nov. 16, respectively, before the Shaka Smart and his Longhorns head to Sin City for their matchup with No. 8 North Carolina on Nov. 22. The Las Vegas Invitational will feature Texas, North Carolina, Michigan State and UCLA. Texas will play either Michigan State or UCLA on Nov. 23, with both games featured on FS1 and Fox. The tip time for the Nov. 23 matchup with UCLA or Michigan State is set for 3 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. because it’s Las Vegas and people go to bed early out there, apparently.

After returning home from Las Vegas, the Longhorns will play the remaining six non-conference games at home, starting with a Nov. 30 matchup with perennial powerhouse Radford.

Smart’s old school, VCU, visits Austin on Dec. 5, completing the second leg of a home-and-home, and will be nationally televised on ESPNU. This game will be fun for Shaka Smart. Longhorns fans will have to make sure they show up for this game, but not necessarily because Texas needs you. Rather, show up so that The University of Texas at Austin isn’t absolutely embarrassed. The Frank Erwin Center has a capacity of 16,734. VCU’s Stuart C. Siegel Center has a capacity of 7,617. Please show up to ensure that Texas, one of the biggest brands in college athletics, has a crowd greater than that of a VCU home game.

The No. 24 Purdue Boilermakers will arrive in Austin on Dec. 9 for a nationally televised contest on ESPN2. The game against the Boilers will be a good measuring stick for the Longhorns before heading into conference play after the holiday break.

Texas will face Grand Canyon, Providence, and UT Arlington before opening Big 12 Conference play on Jan. 2 at Kansas State, where earlier this year the football team finally won a game for the first time since 2002.

Enjoy the non-conference schedule, Texas fans. These are prime opportunities to figure out how effective yelling at your TV is during games before Big 12 play begins.