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Previewing No. 7 Texas vs UTRGV

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The Longhorns return back to the Frank Erwin Center on Friday Night.

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NCAA Basketball: Sam Houston State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

After returning to Gregory Gym earlier this week for the first time since 1977, the No. 7 Texas (5-1) hosts the UTRGV Vaqueros (4-4) on Friday night at the Erwin Center.

The Longhorns have won their last four games by at least 13 points and look to continue rolling through their non-conference slate against the Vaqueros. Head coach Chris Beard and the Horns are coming off one of their most balanced wins, with the team shooting 54\ percent from the floor and right at 50 percent from deep against the Bearkats the Gregory Gym on Monday.

It was perhaps the best outing from the Texas backcourt, with senior guard Marcus Carr playing his best game in a Longhorns jersey with a season-high 19 points and fellow senior guards Courtney Ramey and Andrew Jones contributing 14 points each.

UTRGV’s Matt Figger is coaching one of the fastest teams in the country in terms of tempo, where the Vaqueros are ranked 12th in adjusted tempo per KenPom.com. Their backcourt is led by wing Justin Johnson, who is averaging 20.8 points per game on 59.2-percent shooting overall and 50-percent shooting from three. Guard Ricky Nelson is also having a strong start to the season, putting up 12.6 points while shooting an absurd 72.7 percent from beyond the arc.

However, the Vaqueros have yet to beat a team outside of those currently in quadrant 4 and are 0-7 against everyone else. Their strongest win is against Cal State Fullerton, but they did hang tough against No. 14 Illinois, losing 94-85 in Champaign. It should be noted that the Illini were missing two starters and another bench player.

The Longhorns defense has been solid under the Beard era thus far, allowing only 54.8 points per game (fifth in the nation) and No. 25 in KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency metric.

“The team that wins the Big 12 is normally the best defensive team,” Beard said. “Our guys have done a great job of embracing and trying to be a great defensive team.”

With the volleyball team hosting a second-round NCAA Tournament game on Friday, tip time for the basketball game was moved up so fans could attend both contests.

After Friday’s matchup against UTRGV, Texas will next face No. 25 Seton Hall on Dec. 9th.

How to Watch:

TV: Longhorn Network

Time: 6 p.m. Central

Radio: Texassports.com affiliates

Odds: The Longhorns are 28-point favorites over the Vaqueros, according to DraftKings.

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