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Texas set for early-season test vs. No. 23 Purdue

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The Longhorns won last season’s matchup and will now head to West Lafayette.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

After enjoying just one tune-up game — a 69-45 season-opening win over Northern Colorado — the Texas Longhorns are set for their first true test of the season as Shaka Smart leads his squad on the road against the No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers.

The meeting will serve as the second installment of a home-and-home series between the Horns and Boilermakers, with Texas owning the edge after outlasting Purdue in Austin last season, 72-68.

High-volume scoring guard Carsen Edwards is no longer in the black and gold, which is ideal news for Texas after Edwards scored 40 points in last season’s meeting, but it certainly appears that Matt Painter’s group will be just fine going forward.

Now in Edwards’ place is another high-volume scorer in Jahaad Proctor, a graduate transfer from High Point who dropped 26 points in his Boilermaker debut against Green Bay. Texas’ guards will, of course, present a higher level of competition, but Proctor averaged 19.5 points per outing last season, so he’s a formidable scoring threat, nevertheless.

7’3, 250-pound center Matt Haarms is back for his junior season, and after leading the Big Ten in blocks in 2018-19, Haarms already has seven swats to his name. It could go without saying that Haarms will provide a tall test in the paint for a Texas team that, at long last, may be without a first-round NBA-caliber talent at center.

Similarly, 6’7 junior wing Nojel Eastern, a Preseason All-Big Ten selection, should prove to be a difficult matchup as yet another elite-level defender for Purdue.

Power forward Aaron Wheeler, an athletic sophomore who can stretch the floor, and sophomore wing Eric Hunter Jr. round out Purdue’s starting unit, but Painter’s rotation ran eight deep during the season opener.

As was the case for both Texas and Purdue to begin the season, comfortable wins over overmatched opponents aren’t exactly an ideal measuring stick, but Saturday’s matchup in West Lafayette should serve as a telling early-season test against projected NCAA Tournament-caliber competition. Purdue, of course, enters ranked No. 23 nationally and is as high as No. 7 per KenPom, while the Longhorns are ranked No. 32 by that same system.

Tip-off between Texas and Purdue is set for 6 p.m. CT on Saturday, Nov. 9. The game will be televised nationally on FS1.