For the first time in nearly a week, the No. 7 Texas Longhorns will be back on the hardwood on Sunday afternoon, this time to meet the Stanford Cardinal at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas as part of the Pac 12 Coast-to-Coast Challenge.
For the Longhorns, of course, the extended break between games couldn’t have come at a better time, affording what’s currently acting head coach Rodney Terry’s team some time to adjust and reestablish their footing in the aftermath of Chris Beard’s arrest for felony domestic violence.
“We always talk about not getting too high, not getting too low,” Terry said after Texas’ overtime win over Rice. “The next game is the biggest game, and just reiterating those kind of things to our guys. We’ve worked hard to put ourselves in the position that we’re in right now, you guys go out and play for one another. And our guys have done a great job playing for one another this year. Those guys, they’ve got a lot of pride, I’ve got a lot of pride. Me, obviously, had a chance to come back to this institution because I love this place and I want to win a national championship here and I know our guys do.”
So now, with a week to reset behind them, the Longhorns will continue to push forward towards their title aspirations by traveling up I-35 to meet a Stanford squad that’s had more than its fair share of struggles this season.
The Cardinal enter at just 4-6 after dropping three of their last four contests, and thus far, offense has been their achilles heel. Stanford ranks just 111th in adjusted offense, per KenPom, and they’ve failed to crack the 70-point mark in six of their 10 games — unsurprisingly, those were their six losses.
Led by wings Spencer Jones (11.7 PPG) and former five-star Harrison Ingram (9.8 PPG), and Michael Jones (9.7 PPG), Stanford features a rotation worth of moderate-level contributors, but they don’t really have anyone who’s consistently lighting up the scoreboard, and that’s been an issue — something that will likely prove true versus a Texas team that’s No. 5 in adjusted defense, per KenPom. That said, Stanford’s size inside, led by 7’1 center Maxime Raynaud, and length on the perimeter could cause some problems for Texas’ smaller guards.
To that end, Marcus Carr continues to lead the way for the Longhorns offensively and has emerged as Texas’ big shot taker and maker this season, leading the team with 15.4 points after his 28 against Rice. On the other hand, given the current adversity Texas faces, they could certainly benefit by getting more from Tyrese Hunter, who’s totaled just nine points on 33 percent shooting the last couple games. If those two are on, life gets far easier for the rest of the team and allows Texas’ veteran depth really shine.
But to be sure, as Hunter has struggled, Timmy Allen has emerged from his slow start, true freshman Dillon Mitchell continues to impress as a highly efficient fourth or fifth option, while Sir’Jabari Rice, Christian Bishop, and Brock Cunningham have thrived in their bench roles as of late. For perspective, that handful of Horns’ have collectively added 103 of the 175 points Texas has scored the last two times out as depth continues to be a factor in Texas’ favor.
That will likely prove to be the case once more on Sunday as Texas will go a legitimate 10 deep against Stanford. The Cardinal could make it interesting if they’re able to utilize their size incredibly well, and if guys like Jones, Ingram, and Jones can get going, Texas will absolutely have to go out and win this game as they had to do against a Rice squad they also overmatched.
But if Texas plays its game and the Longhorns don’t beat themselves, odds are Stanford won’t be able to do it.
How to watch
Time: 12 p.m. Central
Livestream: WatchESPN, SlingTV
Odds: Texas is favored by 10 points, per DraftKings Sportsbook