On Friday night, the Texas Longhorns nearly lost a game that they should not have lost. Facing the Arkansas Razorbacks on a night where sophomore guard Matt Coleman played about as poorly as he has at Texas, Shaka Smart gave the ball to senior Kerwin Roach II and freshman Courtney Ramey and the two guards saved Texas’ bacon. But it did take a tough three by Roach at the end of regulation and a tense overtime to do it.
An ugly win is better than an ugly loss, but at this point in the season if we judge the team as how it is playing against a standard then the judgement is a tough one.
Tonight things should hopefully be a little less stressful. The menacingly named Warhawks of Louisiana Monroe — the “Fighting Warhawks” would just be redundant — come to Austin to face Texas.
Hailing from the Sun Belt conference, Keith Richard’s squad (and let’s clarify here, that is Keith Richard, and not Keith Richards) has a 2-0 record, with wins against Jackson State and something called Millsaps. (Just kidding, Millsaps students and alumni, the last thing I want is a score of angry Methodists in my Twitter mentions. For your easy reference, my Twitter handle is @SBN_Wescott. Yes, with an underscore in between the “SBN” and “Wescott.”)
One thing we can say for certain about the Warhawks is that they have an experienced squad. The top eight players in Coach Richard’s rotation rotation are four seniors, three juniors, and a sophomore. The best player on the team is 6’6 senior wing Travis Munnings, who is an athletic player who can make plays, can shoot from the outside, and is quite good on the glass. He is also 24 years old, which makes him something of a grownup. He plays mostly as an undersized four-man.
6’2 sophomore guard Michael Ertel is a versatile scoring guard and another of the Warhawks primary options. 6’1 senior Daishon Smith is the likely starter at point guard. Junior college transfer JD Williams and Oral Roberts transfer Jontray Harris both play heavy minutes on the perimeter, and Andre Washington and Tyree White split time at the five spot. This is not a team that is particularly big.
For the Longhorns, the primary goal should be to continue to shake off the rust. I am particularly looking at Dylan Osetkowski and Jericho Sims in this regard; the pair, which makes up the Texas starting front court, have combined on the season to commit 17 of 30 Longhorns turnovers.
Meanwhile, I fully expect for Coleman to leave what ever happened in El Paso behind, and get back to the solid play with which we have grown accustomed. KenPom.com predicts a 20-point win against the No. 242-ranked Warhawks.
The game tips at 7 p.m. Central, and airs on the Longhorn Network.