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Across the Court: Texas Longhorns (Part 2)

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We preview tonight's game with Barking Carnival, one of two SB Nation sites covering the Texas Longhorns.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently everything is bigger in Texas, including the number of sites it takes to cover the Texas Longhorns. We already posted our Q&A with Burnt Orange Nation, and up next is friend of the site bitterwhiteguy from Barking Carnival.

RCT: Which crazy UT fan is more realistic, the one who thinks Mo Bamba and Shaka Smart mastermind a miraculous Big 12 Title, or the one who thinks that Shaka Smart was only hired because he got lucky and beat Kansas in a tournament game that he would have lost 99 times out of 100?

BC: Uh, neither? I guess I’d say the former, only in a relative sense. Texas is significantly better than last season, but it’s a tall order trying to take out Kansas, West Virginia, and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) TCU. With all due respect to Mo and his ridiculous defensive impact, Texas only makes a run at the top spot if one or more of Kerwin Roach II, Jacob Young, Jase Febres, or Eric Davis Jr starts hitting 2+ threes a game at 35% or better. The defense is elite, the shots at the rim are falling, but the outside shooting is the negative that keeps this team from making it to the second weekend of March Madness. I think any spot between 3rd & 6th in this conference is the most likely outcome for Texas this year.

RCT: What happened in that Tennessee State game?

BC: I always say you can’t take the *checks notes* *clears throat* 209th-rated team in Pomeroy lightly. *loosens tie* Texas couldn’t hit anything from deep, and their answer to not having a reliable perimeter threat (Andrew Jones was injured) was...to shoot more threes? Texas held Tennessee State to 0.75 points per possession, turned them over on 41% of their possessions, blocked 7 shots, and won by one because Texas was 3-21 from behind the arc and Matt Coleman had his worst game in burnt orange with six turnovers. Just an ugly offensive performance all around.

RCT: Other than the clash of titans Udoka Azuibuike and Mo Bamba down low, what matchups are going to be key in this game?

BC: Defensively, I want to see who Texas puts Kerwin Roach on. Jevon Carter is a great defensive guard and I like his game a lot, but Roach has thrown his name squarely in the B12 DPOY discussion by putting on some serious clinics against great players all season. He kept Grayson Allen in check, he basically made Collin Sexton fake an injury so he could leave the game, and he’s probably going to be the guy to guard Trae Young in the Oklahoma games. It would be my guess he goes against Graham, but if you have another guy that plays the 1-3 spots who is more dynamic with the ball in his hands then Roach will probably get him. Offensively, I want to see how much Kansas plays zone. It’s the easiest solution to bogging Texas down if Kansas has an effective 2-3 zone in their playbook, and would mean Andrew Jones (who should be back from his fractured wrist in time for this game) and the other perimeter shooters would need to hit some outside shots.

RCT: Since Texas just won a bowl game against Missouri to secure a winning season, does anyone actually care about a basketball game before the beginning of the new year?

BC: I just removed the irrelevant part of your question, as the Burnt Orange faithful are, uhm, not faithful before the calendar flips over. A good chunk of them will spend Friday evening arguing on the internet about 2019 football recruiting. (We named our UT basketball podcast “Pretend We’re Football” for a reason.) Texas fans are already a fickle lot when it comes to basketball, much less on the Friday night before NYE when all the students are gone. They tend to show up for Kansas games, but the scheduling gods did not do Shaka any favors for this one.

RCT: Prediction Time! How does the game go today? Can the Longhorns give everyone in the conference hope by putting the Jayhawks in an early hole in the conference race?

BC: Before the season began, we were talking on Pretend We’re Football and the host asked each of us if we thought Texas would beat Kansas this year. I said no, and I’m sticking with it until proven otherwise. I think it should be close because both teams play good defense and will likely suppress the score; the way Texas wins this game is if Roach shuts down Graham, Jones comes back from his injury and hits 4+ threes, and Bamba is able to counteract Azu...Azubwi -- (Cut me some slack, I’ve already had to learn how to spell Osetkowski from memory.) -- Azubuike’s size better than he did against Tennessee State’s big. It could happen, Texas has played some extremely good teams to the wire this year, but I’m not putting money on it.

RCT: BONUS - XBox or Playstation?

BC: Xbox, though the Playstation Vue service may get me to switch when I finally cut the cord.

A huge thanks to bitterwhiteguy for helping us out today. We didn't get a return article on BC this time, but feel free to head over there for more coverage of tonight's game.