With the the football team now finished with the regular season, the Texas Longhorns are holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the Moody Center on Tuesday ahead of a non-conference game agains the UAB Blazers at 7 p.m. Central at the Erwin Center.
The grounds south of Mike A. Meyers Stadium open at 4:30 p.m. with photo opportunities with Texas Cheer and Texas Pom and Bevo XV. Food trucks, including Austin’s Pizza, Chick-fil-A, Evil Weiner, Four Brothers Venezuelan, Garbo’s Lobster Rolls, Pok-e-Jo’s BBQ, Ranch Hand, Redfin Seafood Kitchen, Sugar Rush, and Torchy’s Tacos, will provide free food during the event.
Like Bevo Blvd., the free event will feature happy hour pricing on beer and wine including $5 16-oz. domestic beers, $6 16-0z premium beers, and $5 wine spritzers.
Following the groundbreaking at 5:00 p.m., Nashville-based band Moon Taxi will play a free concert starting a half hour later.
Fans can enjoy free parking at Manor Parking Garage (while spots are available).
After the event, Texas will play an important non-conference game against UAB following the most successful month of November under head coach Shaka Smart.
Fourth-year head coach Robert Ehsan leads a Blazers team that currently sits at 4-2 with losses to Kentucky and Utah Valley.
Two critical factors will influence how the game goes early — how much contact the officials allow and how Texas responds to a physical UAB team that plays good defense and hasn’t allowed opponents to get to the foul line. The Longhorns have struggled in that area over the last three games, so being more aggressive to get to the rim and play through contact is a point of emphasis for Smart with his team, especially since the Blazers have defended the three-point line well this season.
Like Texas, UAB is a guard-driven team offensively, as the top four scorers all play on the perimeter, led by 5’10, 140-pound Jalen Benjamin, who averages 13.5 points per game on 41.7-percent shooting from beyond the arc. At 2.5 turnovers per game and 0.7 assists per contest, Benjamin makes some questionable decisions with the ball and is looking for his own offense.
In fact, Tyreek Scott-Grayson is the only Blazers player with double-digit assists at 13 — the Longhorns have three, led by junior guard Matt Coleman, who has 35. The question for Texas defensively is whether the inclination towards one-on-one play by UAB is an advantage or disadvantage in this game given that reducing assists is a major goal of assistant coach Luke Yaklich’s scheme.
The Blazers have been prone to turnovers this season, ranking No. 275 in turnover rate.
For Texas offensively, the hope is for the outside shooting to finally get on track — sophomore guard Andrew Jones said after the McNeese State game that he expects the floodgates to open soon. Jones is only shooting 28.9 percent from distance this season, while junior guard Jase Febres is shooting 33.3 percent. Both numbers are lower than what they’ve been able to accomplish previously.
KenPom.com gives Texas an 86-percent win probability in this game with a projected margin of 66-55. The game tips off at 7 p.m. on Longhorn Network.