AUSTIN, Texas — In the biggest non-conference home matchup of the 2023-24 season the No. 19 Texas Longhorns host the Rice Owls at 8 p.m. Central on Longhorn Network at the Moody Center.
The Owls enter the game ranked No. 181 in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency metrics with the No. 96 offense and the No. 274 defense and boasting four returning starters from last year’s team that forced the Longhorns into overtime in December before falling 87-81. The leader of the team’s Princeton offense is senior forward Max Fiedler, a 6’11, 230-pounder that Texas head coach Rodney Terry called one of the best passers in college basketball after averaging 5.0 assists per game last season.
For Texas, senior Virginia transfer Kadin Shedrick receives his first start for the Longhorns, replacing junior UTEP transfer Ze’Rik Onyema in the lineup.
- Senior guard Max Abmas
- Junior guard Tyrese Hunter
- Senior guard IT Horton
- Senior forward Kadin Shedrick
- Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell
After winning the opening tip, Texas started the game off with a set play that created an alley-oop dunk for Shedrick on an assist from Abmas.
The second highlight play came less than a minute later when Mitchell pinned a block against the backboard, starting a fast break that produced a three for Horton. Two driving baskets by Horton continued his hot start to the game and to the season before he turned the ball over on the next possession, eventually heading into the under-16 timeout with a 9-6 lead.
Out of the break, Abmas hit a quick-trigger catch-and-shoot three, Onyema flashed a lefty hook in the lane, and Abmas hit a jumper on a baseline out-of-bound play to extend the margin to 17-8. Once again, however, Texas was a bit sloppy with the basketball with four turnovers in the first seven-plus minutes. After a Rice three, Hunter responded with one of his own from distance and the Owls turned the ball over to head into the under-12 timeout with the Horns leading 20-11.
Shedrick extended the margin with a hook shot from the block followed by a three from senior forward Brock Cunningham, the last real action from the Longhorns offensively in that stretch media timeouts thanks to nearly two and a half minutes without a made basket, though Shedrick did hit two free throws.
Fouled before the under-eight timeout, Shedrick split his trip to the line as the field-goal drought continued for Texas, in part because of continued turnover issues. Hunter finally broke the streak after roughly four and a half minutes, a stretch during which the Horns only missed two field-goal attempts. A 6-2 spurt by Rice cut the deficit under double digits aided by a 9-2 advantage in points off turnovers.
With the Texas lead at five points, the Longhorns got into the bonus at the 3:08 mark with Shedrick hitting two from the line. But the Owls were getting hot from the field, hitting 4-of-5 shots, until the defensive intensity picked up by the home team as Mitchell blocked a three-point attempt on a possession that ended with a shot-clock violation by Rice, heading into half with a 41-32 lead.
Mitchell started the second half with a driving layup on a set play with Horton on the bench in favor of Cunningham. On a sequence with nice ball and player movement from Mitchell to Cunnigham to Shedrick, the Virginia transfer hit his first three-point attempt in burnt orange and white. Then the Longhorns started to get out in transition with Hunter hitting two free throws after drawing a foul on the break and Cunningham hitting a three to force a timeout by the Owls with the lead at 15 points, the largest of the game.
As Texas went 8-of-10 shooting to start the second half, the Longhorns missed an opportunity to blow out the Owls, who started 7-of-10 shooting after halftime. Fortunately, Rodney Terry’s team outscored Rice 23-16 during that stretch to the under-12 timeout to increase the lead.
Both teams went scoreless for several minutes after the media timeout, including two missed free throws by Horton. The most notable moment came when Onyema was whistled for a technical foul after standing over a Rice player following a block until Hunter found Mitchell for a lob dunk running the baseline just before the under-eight timeout.
Rice had a call a timeout not long after the restart when Cunningham hit a layup on an offensive rebound and Hunter got out on the break for a layup following a steal to take a 73-57 lead.
With the game turning into something of a slog, Texas went on a 7-0 run from the 5:19 mark to the 1:51 mark with a layup by Abmas, a free throw and a layup by Onyema, and a lob tapped in by Mitchell for a 20-point lead, the game’s largest, before finishing it out with a 80-64 win.