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No. 8 Texas vs. Northern Colorado preview

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Longhorns look to rebound after Saturday’s loss to the No. 1 Bulldogs on the road.

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NCAA Basketball: Texas at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 8 Texas Longhorns return to the Erwin Center on Wednesday evening to tip off in the first-ever Abe Lemons Classic against the Northern Colorado Bears.

Lemons was the head coach at Texas for six seasons, during which he led the Horns to the NIT Championship in in 1978, a year that also marked the first of two consecutive Southwest Conference titles.

The current Longhorns are 1-1 after Saturday’s loss to the No. 1 Bulldogs and feature seven players who are averaging at least 8.0 points per game and nine players who are playing at least 14.0 minutes per game.

Senior forward Timmy Allen leads Texas in scoring (13.0 points per game) and rebounds (6.0 rebounds per game) on 10-of-15 shooting after racking up a team-high 18 point against Gonzaga. He also recorded a team-best six rebounds and added four assists.

Heading into Wednesday’s game against Northern Colorado, Texas may need to reassess who is taking three-point shots — Gonzaga sagged off poor shooters like Allen on the perimeter and while the Utah transfer hit two of his four attempts from beyond the arc, that level of efficiency is likely unsustainable for the career 30-percent shooter. Senior forward Christian Bishop, junior guard Brock Cunningham, and sophomore guard Devin Askew also shot a combined to shoot 2-for-6 from three.

The defense also needs to improve. Northern Colorado won’t threaten Texas in the post like Drew Timme did, but the Longhorns have given up too many straight-line drives to the basket and don’t have the type of rim protector to clean up those mistakes.

But there will be plenty of non-conference games that feature opportunities to improve agains weak opponents like the Bears. At 3-1, Northern Colorado enters the game ranked No. 183 in KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency rankings with a loss to Hawaii-Hilo. The Bears struggle defensively, fouling too much and failing to create steals, and likely won’t pose much of a threat on the offensive glass.

Guard Daylen Kountz is one of five players who averages double-digit points for Northern Colorado, leading the way at 17.3 points per game. Limiting the Colorado transfer off the bounce will be key, as he’s an efficient shooting from inside the arc, but has only hit 3-of-13 three-point attempts this season. In the frontcourt, 6’9 forward Kur Jongkuch adds 8.0 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game, but turns the ball over on 27.2 percent of his possessions.

How to Watch:

TV: Longhorn Network

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 17

Time: 7:30 p.m. Central

Radio: Texassports.com affiliates

Odds: The Longhorns are 20.5-point favorites over the Bears, according to DraftKings.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.