After a first round loss in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Texas Longhorns will once again face the 3-1 Washington Huskies in the tournament's consolation bracket.
You may remember the last time these two teams played. It was a spectacular display of fouls and bad shooting, set to a Bill Walton free association soundtrack. It was a game that was sort of difficult to interpret, with so many fouls and such abysmal shooting by both teams.
With a tip off set at 6 PM CST on Thanksgiving, just 30 minutes before a Longhorn football game, and a broadcast on a somewhat obscure cable channel (AXS TV), this particular match up seems unlikely to be the most watched game of the Texas basketball season. But should you find a few minutes to pry your eyes away from the football game, here is what you can expect.
Remembering the Huskies
As you may recall, the Washington Huskies are led by senior guard Andrew Andrews, 6-9 junior Malik Dime, and deep class of athletic freshmen. Andrews has done most of his damage so far this season at the free throw line, where he has gone 39-47. This works out to nearly 10 made free throws per game so far. This impressive rate of both drawing fouls and sinking free throws was on display during the first round game against Gonzaga, when Andrews went 13-14 from the stripe.
Dime came to Washington this season from Indian Hills Community College, and has been a huge factor in Washington's 3-1 start. He doesn't shoot a lot, but he has been ridiculously active on the offensive boards, pulling down 18 percent of his team's missed shots when on the floor, and is the best of Coach Lorenzo Romar's three shot blockers.
And now onto that deep class of athletic freshmen. The one who has had the greatest impact so far is 6-9 Marquese Chriss, a player who has given opponents problems at both ends of the floor. He has scored the ball effectively around the rim, has been active on the offensive glass, and blocks shots.
The three headed big man rotation is rounded out by 6-8 freshman Noah Dickerson, who is another rebounder and shot blocker. (And don't forget 6-5 freshman Matisse Thybulle, who while struggling offensively has added additional defensive length to a team that hardly needs more of it.)
The key ball handler for Romar is freshman Dejounte Murray, who hasn't yet shot the ball very well, and has had some turnover troubles so far this season, but along with Andrews and Chriss attempts much of the heavy lifting on offense.
Is today a day for Texas to break out of its struggles?
So far the Longhorn hoops season is off to a rocky start. It is not time to panic yet -- basketball season is really long -- but through the first three games the Texas Longhorns haven't been a very good team.
There hasn't really been a single key issue through the first three games of Shaka Smart's tenure; each game has seen different problems undermine the Longhorns. In the first game against Washington, poor shooting sunk Texas. During an uninspiring win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi the Longhorns were careless with the basketball. And in yesterday's 11 point loss to Texas A&M, Smart's offense wasn't terrible, but the defense didn't force turnovers and allowed A&M too many easy chances near the basket. That is a tough combination to overcome.
So it is really anyone's guess what we will see tonight. Perhaps tonight will be the night that Texas goes 12-24 from three point range, which has the tendency of washing over other problems. Or perhaps the Horns will give up a bunch of offensive rebounds to a Huskies team with the fifth highest offensive rebounding percentage in D-I, and thus find a new way to lose.
This is your game thread
Use the comments section below to discuss the game, as you show your dexterity with the remote control.