Following Tuesday’s 85-78 overtime loss to the No. 17 Illinois Fighting Illini at Madison Square Garden, the No. 2 Texas Longhorns are back at the Moody Center on Saturday for a matchup against the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions in the Jimmy Blacklock Classic.
The game will honor the career of Blacklock, the first Black player recruited by the Longhorns who was named the team MVP in 1970-71 after leading the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game and went on to captain the team the following year as Texas won the SWC and went to the Sweet 16.
In the all-time series between the two program, Texas boasts a 63-31 win last season over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which enters Saturday’s game with a 3-7 record thanks to one of the more difficult non-conference schedules in the country, having faced TCU, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, and Nebraska in addition to losses to Kent State and Air Force.
Despite the strength of that schedule, KenPom.com ranks the Golden Lions as the No. 354 team nationally thanks to the No. 346 offense in adjusted efficiency and the No. 351 defense in adjusted efficiency. But Pine Bluff was competitive against TCU, leading by four points with less than two minutes remaining before the Horned Frogs went on a late 7-0 run aided by four free throws. The loss to Oklahoma was close as well as a layup with 2:27 remaining cut the lead for the Sooners to two points before the home team was able to close out the Golden Lions.
Pine Bluff does have some length and experience to complement leading scorer Shaun Doss Jr., a 6’5 guard transfer from SIU Edwardsville who is averaging 17.9 points per game and shoots 42.9 percent from three-point range.
“We will have to try to do a great job not letting him get to his spots and try to make it no a difficult day for him, not a comfortable day, because if you let him play his game, he’s as good as any 6’5 scoring athlete in college basketball,” Texas head coach Chris Beard said on Friday.
Cleveland State transfer forward Chris Greene is the only other player to average in double digits for Pine Bluff at 11.2 points per game and the team shoots poorly overall at 38.8 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from beyond the arc.
For Texas, forward Christian Bishop is four points away from the 1,000-point plateau in his career while forward Timmy Allen is coming off a season-high 21 points with eight assists and seven rebounds in Tuesday’s loss, by far his best performance of the season.
How to watch
Time: Noon Central
TV: Longhorn Network