As the Texas Longhorns non-conference slate nears an end, let’s recognize a few candid truths and takeaways from the recent craziness.
Truth and takeaways
Truth — Inconsistency is Texas’ Achilles heel. It’s painfully evident that their hopes of a conference championship aren’t as tangible as it seemed following a successful Las Vegas Invitational. The reason being frequent inconsistency, shown in full scope during the last four games that began with an air-tight finish versus UNC.
For Shaka Smart, the win notched his best and first noteworthy non-conference win of his tenure. Despite a loss versus Michigan State only hours later, their stout performance in that matchup was a reassuring sight for a skeptical fanbase. The glass turned half-empty from there. A loss to Radford and another against VCU was a reminder that Texas is closer to .500 than the Top 25.
Statistically, the spotty offensive totals have shown throughout their non-conference slate. Texas managed to score 97 versus Citadel and 92 on UNC, yet only 59 in the Radford loss and 53 in the VCU loss. It’s been made clear early on that when there is consistency in the offense, success will become a trend. But maintaining that consistency seems to be a foreign concept. Still, the Horns do have more positive takeaways (perfect segue) from their first twelve games.
Takeaway — The start to the season was a success. I’ve clearly played devil’s advocate thus far, and while it’s probably warranted, I’ll be more upbeat and optimistic from here on out. Speaking through the biased perspective of a fan, beating a program with the UNC’s prestige and staying competitive with Michigan State bodes well for the direction Texas is trending as a program.
It’s of note that they were also an early check-in to the top-25, seated at seventeen in the second AP poll. This was their first rank since 2016, and the highest in the Smart era. Though they’ve stumbled through the past week or so, early wins versus Arkansas and North Carolina are cards to play in creating March resumes.
Takeaway — The Texas roster is well suited for their conference gauntlet. Ultimately, their tendency to play to the level of competition caters to their schedule filled with in-conference powerhouses. When playing non-Power Six opponents, Texas is 3-2, averaging just 69 ppg. Compare that to their match ups with Power Six opponents with above .500 records, Texas is 2-1 averaging a respectable 78 ppg. Absurd, definitely, but it’s slightly comforting to know this team is elite versus superior programs, which they will be facing in a large majority of conference games.