It’s been a rough week for Texas Longhorns basketball fans.
It’ll likely be a rough weekend too. The LSU Tigers are sitting atop the SEC Conference standings and are looking to continue their winning streak at the Frank Erwin Center.
Earlier this week, the Tigers squeaked out a win over the Florida Gators by a score of 84-82. Early on, the Tigers trailed by eight and then jumped to a 10-point lead. But their lead wouldn’t hold, as the Tigers’ lead was cut to just two points within the final 80 seconds.
It didn’t matter. The Tigers won.
But that just goes to show what the Longhorns will be up against. LSU, as if their undefeated SEC record doesn’t speak for itself, has been dominate all season and has carried the torch for the school’s recent national championship-winning football team.
If not for Florida’s three-pointing shooting earlier this week – the Tigers shot 14.3 percent from beyond the arc, while the Gators shot 36.7 percent, and 40 percent in the second half alone – then it’s hard to say whether the Gators could have hung in the second half at all.
The Tigers have also been dominant in the paint this season. Point guard Skylar Mays has offensively averaged 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. On defense, he’s also averaged 2.1 steals per game. Meanwhile, Javonte Smart, LSU’s other guard, is averaging 11.8 points and 4.7 assists. So the Tigers’ success in 2019-2020 makes sense so far.
Then there are the Longhorns, who as of late have made a habit of belly-flopping.
Texas would be adrift if not for guard Matt Coleman, who’s averaging 12.2 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game, and is also the Longhorns’ best on-ball defender as he’s averaged 1.6 steals per game. The same could be said for forward Jericho Sims, who’s averaging 9.3 points per game and 7.8 rebounds on offense, and 1.6 blocks on defense.
The fact that forward Kamaka Hepa is out with a right ankle injury and forward Gerald Liddell is out with a back injury will be of little help to Texas. Since Hepa entered the starting lineup against High Point in late December, he’s averaged 6.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 blocks over a seven-game span. As for Liddell, after recent MRI results recently revealed that he’s dealing with a stress fracture in his back, according to a reporter in the San Antonio News-Express, he may require additional time to get back to the 4.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and one assist he’s averaged over the season so far.
If the Longhorns are to make an impression at the Frank Erwin Center, they’ll have to capitalize early on LSU’s mistakes early on.
But can they? It’s a question that may decide head coach Shaka Smart’s future.
Tipoff take place at 1 p.m. Central on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.