Long Beach Regional - Weekend ThreadThe Longhorns begin post-season play on Friday in the Long Beach, California regional against the UCLA Bruins at 6:00 pm.
Texas enters the Regional is the #2 seed with UCLA holding the #3 seed.
Host team, #1 Long Beach State faces #4 seed San Diego State later on Friday evening.
Stay up-to-date on the Regional action in our weekend game thread (click on the link below).
LONG BEACH REGIONAL - WEEKEND THREAD
Texas Baseball shuts out Texas State 2-0After losing two of three to Baylor in Waco last weekend, the Longhorn Baseball team faced Texas State on Tuesday evening at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin. Texas struggled to find solid pitching against the Bears and David Pierce's squad looked to flip the switch against the Bobcats, courtesy of RHP Blair Henley (3-3 3.99 ERA) and the Texas bullpen.
Henley showed a strong performance, shutting out the Bobcats over 5 innings, getting 3 strikeouts on 73 pitches. The Texas bullpen finished up Henley's work with Connor Mayes, Chase Shugart, Tyler Schimpf, and Beau Ridgeway each pitching an inning each, shutting out Texas State and only allowing 2 hits.
This is only Texas Stateâ€™s 2nd time being shut out this year and is Texasâ€™ 6th shutout on the season.
Despite the wonderful numbers, the Longhorns real success was finding their way out of two bases loaded, no out jams without surrendering a run. Pierce praised his pitching staff and gave them credit for finding their way out of the jams, â€œWhat I liked seeing about that is I thought we elevated out pitches and continued to make quality pitches against themâ€¦ We made very quality pitches to have the opportunity to get out of it.â€
When I asked David Pierce what was the difference between the bullpen this game and last weekend he simply replied, â€œThere was really nothing different. We were at home. They hit two fly balls in the 9th, and we ran them down.â€
The Texas State Bobcat pitching staff also pitched well despite the loss, allowing 2 earned runs and forcing Texas to hit into 15 ground outs and stranding 11 base runners.
However, Texas State couldnâ€™t stop Freshman Ryan Reynolds (3-4 RBI, 2B x2), who went on a bit of a hot streak late March into mid-April, but slowed down on his trip to Baylor. Looks like Reynolds is back on track and all it took was some cage time with Coach Pierce according to him. â€œAfter a slow weekend, I got with the coaches, and Coach Pierce came up and told me not to swing as hard as I can. He actually came into the cages with us to show us how to do it. Just take 75-80% on our swings and not try to muscle it. Just let it happen.â€ Ryan Reynolds is now hitting .291 with 10 RBIs and 3 HRs, since March 22nd. Without the Baylor series he hitting .356 with 10 RBIs and 3 HRs.
The other RBI came from Kody Clemens (1-4 RBI) on a base hit right up the middle to score Zane Gurwitz (1-3) in the bottom of the 3rd. Kody is now sitting pretty with 16 RBIs over 27 games.
With their 25th win of the season, Texas has now matched their win total from the 2016 season with 15 games left in the regular season.
The Longhorns will take on the University of New Orleans this Friday at 7:00 PM CST.
Some of the fans with eagle eyes may have noticed a cut right next to the eye of Ryan Reynolds. When I asked him what happened, this is what the freshman from Monroe, Louisiana had to say:
â€œMe and David [Hamilton] go out before the game to hit in the outside cages. Walk in there and there is a bird flying around. We figure, alright, weâ€™ll go get it, let it go. Sucker is hard to catch. Ran for five minutes trying to catch him. There is two divider nets, and I didnâ€™t see, but they were zip-tied together. I was running after the bird, and the next thing I know I was looking straight up at the sun. I feel something kind of running down [my cheek]. Itâ€™s blood. I got clotheslined by the net. David was laughing, and of course, everyone came out and was laughing.â€
(So you didnâ€™t catch the bird?)
â€œNope. Austin Todd came and got the bird in 2 seconds.â€
4th & 5 - Round 2: Breaking Down the Rice Series and Talking Junior Day VisitorsIn the second podcast of the week, HornSports' Will Baizer is back again with InsideTexas' Joe Cook to discuss the recruits visiting Texas for Junior Days. Then the guys get into America's Favorite Pastime and discuss the Texas Baseball season which got underway last weekend with a season-opening series against #23 Rice.
Longhorns take two from Rice in Saturday Double-HeaderAfter 7 straight hours of baseball, Texas takes the double header to the tune of 5-4 and 6-1. They redeemed an anemic offensive performance in the first game and notched head coach David Pierce his first AND second wins as the Longhorns' skipper.
The pitching performances by Kyle Johnston and Blair Henley were phenomenal, as Rice was only able to put up 1 run a piece against them both.
Texas 5, Rice 4
In the first game Johnston threw 93 pitches (63 strikes) over 6 innings where he managed 6Ks, 1BB on 7 hits, but only gave up 1 run in the first inning. Johnston got some help from his offense with patient at bats and the Rice pitching staff helping the Longhorns out. Three of the Longhorns' runs came from walks or hitting the batter with bases loaded. David Hamilton's single in the 6th inning gave the Longhorns three runs and a 5-1 lead going into the final inning of the first game.
Chase Shugart came in to relieve Johnston, but had a little trouble of his own. After facing 7 batters in 2/3 innings and throwing 26 pitches (13 strikes) he had made the game interesting again by letting Rice crawl back with 3 runs.
Oâ€™Hara came into take the game from Shugartâ€™s hands with a man on 1st and 2nd and two outs. Riceâ€™s Gneiting singled to left field off of Oâ€™Hara and over the glove of a leaping Sosa Andres. Wunderlick, the man on 2nd, crossed 3rd and tried his luck rounding for home to tie the game. Travis Jones picked up the ball and threw it home. Out. Ball game.
â€œIt felt pretty good out of the handâ€¦ I saw where [Wunderlick] wasâ€¦ I knew I got him,â€ said Travis Jones after the game.
And he got him for sure, beating Wunderlick to the plate and sealing the 5-4 win for Coach Pierce, his first. One down, one to go.
Texas 6, Rice 1
The second game started off a little shaky for Texas as they trotted out true freshman Blair Henley for his first action on the mound as a Longhorn. Henley started off with a 20-pitch inning and getting out of a bases loaded, no outs jam while only giving up one run. And it would be the only run for Rice in the game.
Henley agreed that the first inning could have gone better, â€œYeah the first inning was roughâ€¦ I was pretty jittery, but I settled down threw how I usually do.â€ And Blair settled down, the Owls paid for it. He used all four of his pitches (fastball, curve-ball, slider, and change-up) and it baffled Riceâ€™s bats. Henley ended up throwing 80 pitches over 5 innings tallying 8 strikeouts (4 of them buckling Rice batterâ€™s knees) and only letting up that 1 run.
Rice also trotted out a true freshman in Matt Canterino, but his rough times didnâ€™t just stick to the first inning. He was only able to get through 3 innings, throwing 84 pitches and gaving up 4 runs. And it didnâ€™t just end with Canterino. Each of Riceâ€™s subsequent pitchers threw over 50 pitches and struggled mightily.
Kacy Clemens ate up the poor pitching by Rice. In game 2 he went 3-3 with a home run over the left field fence and had 2 RBIs. Over the span of both games Kacy went 4-5.
Another guy who had a good day was Michael McCann. McCann who had a nice game at the plate in game 2, going 1- 2 with an RBI.
The other catcher, Michael Cantu, has struggled so far in this series. Cantu has gone 1 -4 so far consisting of some less than stellar at bats.
Overall the Longhorns' approach to the plate was very calm. Each player worked counts and the team had over 20 at bats go to 3 balls or more in the two games. However, theyâ€™re still stranding base runners - there were 16 over the two games (not as bad as Rice who stranded 19).
The youth on this team has done very well. Guys like David Hamilton, Blair Henley, Austin Todd, Ryan Reynolds, and Nolan Kingham have stepped up early and are helping the Longhorns start the season solid.
The Longhorns and Owls will play again on Sunday at noon.
Longhorns drop season opener to Rice 2-3Texas dropped the first game of the four game series 2-3. Post game, head coach David Pierce preached to the team about having a short memory, as the Longhorns have a double header the next day against the Rice Owls.
It was a hard fought pitcherâ€™s duel through most of the first 6 innings. Texas pitcher Morgan Cooper was on fire through the first 5 innings, throwing 67 pitches (46 strikes) and recording 6 Kâ€™s. But the Longhorns couldnâ€™t help Cooper's effort as they struggled for hits against Riceâ€™s veteran thrower Dane Myers â€“ who recorded the longest outing of his career with 90 pitches (50 strikes and 3 Kâ€™s). After that Cooper threw 20 more pitches (12 strikes) before he was relieved by sophmore RHP Nolan Kingham.
Texas led 1-0 in the 6th inning off a sacrifice fly from Kacy Clemens, but Rice scored two off a double that flew over the head of a diving Travis Jones in left field. The Longhorns responded with a run of their own off a Kody Clemens' shot to right field.
After the 6th Kingham came in with a strong performance, hitting 97 mph and retiring the first 7 batters he faced. But the game slipped through his fingers as he allowed one run off of one hit. Notch an assist on that run off a passed ball from Michael Cantu and a questionable call by the home plate umpire to allow the run to cross (when the ball had hit the Rice batter DiCaprio on the foot in the batterâ€™s box). Once it hit DiCaprioâ€™s foot (which was blatant), it shouldâ€™ve been a foul ball and DiCaprio back in the box with a 2-2 count.
Instead Rice won the game off that run.
Texas couldnâ€™t get manufacture another run after that, despite having runners in scoring position. In fact, Texas had a hard time with RISP. The Longhorns stranded 5 runners in this game, one on 3rd and two on 2nd. Freshman Ryan Reynolds accounted for 3 of those stranded runners and the other two were given to the other Freshman, Austin Todd.
Rice had their struggles at the plate as well. They just couldnâ€™t put metal to ball as 8 of their 8 strike outs were made swinging at air. The Texas pitchers came right at the Rice batters as well. Morgan Cooper recorded 17-24 first pitch strikes and Nolan Kingham record 8-10 first pitch strikes.
Stars of the game: Freshman David Hamilton and Sophomore Kody Clemens
Hamilton, who made two spectacular defensive plays consisting of one back handed grab and long toss to first for an out and another bullet to on another long throw to first.
David Pierce had high remarks for Hamilton, "He was outstanding... Not just okay. He was excellent tonight... He's a kid who's going to have some range that other don't."
Kody Clemens had a hot night at the plate, notching the Hornsâ€™ second run off the homerun and tallying a single. Kody was very excited about the new strategy at the plate by the new staff stating, "I loved it! We just have a better opportunity to swing the bat."
2017 Texas Baseball Preview - A New LookTexas Baseball: Extreme Makeover
Texas Baseball has a lot of 'new' in 2017. From players to turf, coaching staff to fences, mentality to toughness, this team is undergoing what could be called an extreme makeover.
Starting with the hiring of a new coaching staff in late June, typically a time when Texas Baseball teams of years-past would be just getting home from Omaha, the winds of change were starting to blow. The University of Texas brought in David Pierce as it's new skipper, replacing the legendary Augie Garrido. The 'name' wasn't what some felt was 'flashy' enough, but this guy is Texas Baseball, 100%. He's the right fit.
Coach Pierce brings with him 27 years of coaching experience, and as a Texas native he has the network with HS and Club teams around the state. And he's not afraid to tap into that network. From his first night on the job with his assistants, Sean Allen and Philip Miller, and Director of Baseball Operations Drew Bishop, the phones were burning up, getting right to work calling current and future recruits, solidifying their commitments-spreading the word. Texas Baseball was back. This type of excitement, drive and work ethic has paid tremendous dividends both on and off the field. Commitments from top young players seem to be coming in fast and furious. You cannot go to Twitter and not see the familiar notification from Coach Pierce announcing good news via #40AcresFamily.
In two days we will start to see the fruits of his labor begin to reap benefits. The word coming from folks inside the program are that the pieces are all in place, it's just going to take a few weeks to settle on a lineup and the right combo. What does this mean? It means that for the first time in several years we have depth. Additionally, we have pieces of the puzzle that can field different positions and that gives this new staff options, lots of options. Texas fans will see the roster shuffled quite a bit while the staff assesses its needs and what works. While I won't list every player on the roster, understand that outside of Cantu at C, every position is up for grabs.
Let's first take a look at our starting pitching for the opening weekend vs Rice.
Friday: Morgan Cooper
Saturday (1): Kyle Johnston
Saturday (2): Blair Henley
If you are an opposing coach, this has to be a very daunting thing to see.
Let's start with Morgan Cooper (R-JR.) He is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery from a couple of years ago, and it is showing. He has been throwing consistently in the 92-93 range on his fastball, and even ramped it up to 96 in the alumni game two weeks ago. He has a changeup, a wicked breaking ball that buckled some of the MLB players in the aforementioned alumni game, and this year has added a slider to his arsenal. There is chatter that he has a very good chance to be a first round draft pick in this year's draft.
Kyle Johnston (SO) took the fall off, as he racked up a lot of innings in summer ball. The staff seemed fine with this, and from what I've been told, he is in top form. While he has had issues with control in the past, if he can limit the free passes to batters, his slider, (which was recently clocked at 89 MPH,) he should be a regular participant in the weekend rotation.
Blair Henley (FR) while still very young, has the mentality of a seasoned veteran. He shies away from nobody. He is a sturdy kid and has some solid pitches. He has a low- to mid-90s fastball, mid-80s slider and he's shown he can locate well. Clearly the coaching staff likes what they've seen so far, so much so to name him as the starter on Saturday's prime time DH game.
That leaves Sunday. Who goes into this spot? I believe it all depends on where we are with the series at this point. The common thought is that the start could go to Nolan Kingham (SO.) The sophomore righty has an overpowering 95-97 MPH fastball, and it moves. He also has good command of a slider, change and a curve. The key for Kingham will be not to press. He has shown a tendency to try to do too much and it affected his control and location.
Connor Mayes (JR) could get a look here as well, although I believe he will be more of a Tuesday guy to start the season. He had somewhat of an up-and-down sophomore season, but he did pitch a gem against TCU to close it out. This summer in California, he earned an All-League commendation for his performance with 49 Ks and a 2.17 ERA.
Nick Kennedy (SO) gives Texas an option of a lefty on the bump. He could be an option on Sunday, as well as Tuesday. Kennedy, (like Kingham,) has to keep things in check and not try to do it all. His fastball is most effective when he lets it work for him, and not when he tries to power it in for the additional 2-3 MPH of velocity. Consistency for Nick will be the key to him seeing more innings and opportunities this season.
This year's closer should be Chase Shugart (SO.) Chase has a fastball that sits 92-95 MPH and added a nice cutter this fall. He was THE go-to guy last season with over 30 appearances. He should get some help this year if needed as Texas has guys like Beau O'Hara (SO) and Beau Ridgeway (SO)
Texas has some further depth in the bullpen with Kevin Roliard (FR) Blake Wellman (SO) Tyler Schimpf (R-SO) and Jon Malmin (SR)
In the field, I am predicting the following for Friday night:
C-Michael Cantu (JR)
1B-Kacy Clemens (SR)
2B-Bret Boswell (R-JR)
3B-Ryan Reynolds (FR)
SS-David Hamilton (FR)
LF-Travis Jones (JR)
CF-Zane Gurwitz (SR)
RF-Patrick Mathis (JR)
You may ask, "Where does the depth come in, and why are we starting two true freshmen on the dangerous left side of the IF?" Depth is all over the place. Think about the following.
Reynolds can also play 1B
Gurwitz can play 3B, 2B, SS; heck he can probably even pitch if you gave him the opportunity-he is Utility defined.
Austin Todd (FR) will be able to play anywhere in the OF.
Tyler Rand (SO) can play LF but Jones will probably get the nod due to his defense, stick and his upperclassman leadership.
Andres Sosa (FR) is fully capable of playing RF in relief of Mathis. He may also see time at 3B.
Joe Baker (JR) will get some reps at either 2B or SS, depending on how his arm is and what the needs are at the plate. He could even see some time at DH.
Kody Clemens coming off of arm surgery will mainly see some time at DH.
Regarding the freshmen in the infield, Hamilton is a stud and was considered by many scouts as a top pick out of HS. He hit leadoff in the Alumni game and showed that he can make solid contact. He has speed and hits from the left side, which is optimum for a leadoff guy. Ryan Reynolds is a ballplayer. His dad is former Longhorn Shane Reynolds. Ryan gets it. He hits for power both RH and LH. He has speed and can cover the 5 spot.
Hitting has been somewhat of a struggle the last few seasons. More specifically, consistent hitting. One thing I have immediately noticed is Pierce's (and staff) impact on hitting approach. The guys are going to the plate expecting to hit the ball. They are aggressive, and are not standing around like cigar store indians. The bats were active in the alumni game as well as the Fall Orange/White World Series. Yes, I know, those were intrasquad scrimmages. I get it. I'm here to tell you that this year is going to be very different. Mathis, Jones, Gurwitz, Boswell and Kacy Clemens all have the ability to hit at or around .300 in 2017. I'm not going to say that the frosh will hit at that level, because it typically takes some time for them to adjust to the collegiate game, especially at the plate. Cantu also could have a breakout year at the plate. Keep a close eye on Boswell. I really liked what I saw from him this summer, fall and in the alumni game.
I am going out on a limb and going to predict that Texas, as a team, hits .300 this year. That's right, I said it. I'm that confident.
Photo Courtesy @DP5hookem
So let's take a brief look at the schedule while we're here. I'm not going to do a series-by-series breakdown, but I will tell you that this is a gauntlet before we even hit Big 12 Conference play.
Four games against #23 Rice in Austin.
Three games against UConn in Austin.
Four games against #18 Stanford in Palo Alto.
Three games against UCLA in Austin.
Tuesday matchup against #20 Texas A&M in Austin.
That's 9 games against Top 25 opponents to start things off.
THEN we open conference play hosting #14 Texas Tech.
This team should be tuned up and ready when Tech comes to Austin.
We have come this far, and no mention yet of the fences. Yes, they have been moved in. The alleys and gaps have been reduced. This will pay dividends for hitters. Of course the fences are the same distance for opposing hitters, so let's hope that our pitchers are up to the task!
I've mentioned before that this team's goal is Omaha. There's a mentality and toughness that has been lacking in recent seasons. The players love the new staff. The staff, Pierce, Allen, Miller, Haig & Bishop, are on the same wavelength and it shows with the team.
Any questions, I'm here to discuss. Friday can't get here soon enough.
Photo Courtesy of @TexasBaseball
Longhorns drop Sooners 84-83 on Andrew Jones 3-pointerAs Oklahoma's Khadeem Lattin pulled in the defensive rebound off a Kerwin Roach missed layup and hit a free throw to extend the Sooners' lead to 5 with 17 seconds to play in the game, Texas fans angrily left the Frank Erwin Center feeling a sense of DÃ©jÃ vu with Texas' capability to pull meltdowns out of thin air.
However, when Eric Davis Jr. sunk a three with 11 seconds left to cut the lead back to 2, Longhorn fans stopped in their tracks, and rerouted to the TV around the concession stands.
The score was 81-83, Sooners lead.
Texas quickly fouls Oklahoma's Kameron McGusty, a career 82.9% free throw shooter.
McGusty misses the front end of the free throws. If they make one, Texas needs a 3 to tie and go to overtime.
McGusty misses the second free throw. Two will tie the game.
Andrew Jones grabs the defensive rebound. 10 seconds left. He dribbles the ball down the court. Longhorn fans and announcers are screaming, go for the hoop. 7 seconds left.
Andrew Jones dribbles to the right side of the arc. 4 seconds left.
Andrew Jones throws up a rainbow from 26 feet away. Longhorn fans simultaneously yell, "NO!"
Swish. 1.8 seconds left.
"When it left my hand, it felt real good," said Jones
That's the tail of the last 19 seconds of the Longhorns wild 84-83 win over their Red River Rival, the Oklahoma Sooners, on Monday night.
However, there was a game before those final 19 seconds. In fact, Texas was in control for the majority of the contest and even led by double digits five different times during the second half. With 5 minutes left in the game, Kendall Yancy fouled out and Texas was down to 7 scholarship players. During those last 5 minutes of the game, Texas went into meltdown mode as they allowed the Sooners to outscore them 16-5 with the help of 3 costly turnovers and a lot of missed shots.
Before this, the team was on fire. They started off both halves with immense energy, jumping out to a 9 point lead in the first half before going on a stretch of in which they let the Sooners back in the game. In the second half the Longhorns started off with an 10-1 run to set the tone. But sloppy play from both teams allowed Oklahoma to claw right back into the game over and over again.
Shaq Cleare had a monster game and was Shaka Smart's player of the game. He tallied a career high 23 points and 8 rebounds (5 offensive). He could not be stopped as he overpowered Oklahoma's Lattin and Kristian Doolittle (who also had 29 points). He had the magic touch as it just seemed as if everything he shot went in.
Eric Davis Jr. was right behind him, with his own career high of 18 points and shooting 5-10 from 3-point land including the clutch three with 11 seconds left to give the Longhorns a shot of hope.
Not to mention the hero of the game, Andrew Jones, went off for 16 points with a pair of dunks, 3 crucial steals, and 8 rebounds. Fellow SG/PG Kerwin Roach also had himself a game with 8 assists and 11 points.
Even Jarrett Allen had himself a few points, as he posted his 8th double-double of the year. Allen struggled from the floor, shooting 3-13 and being doubled up on the entire second half, Allen still managed to pick up 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite very sloppy play by both teams, Texas had control of this game most of the time and should have won with ease. Time and time again the Longhorns will follow up an amazing stretch of plays with lackluster play filled with mistakes, which allows the other team to claw their way back in. Fortunately for the Longhorns, the blend of a clutch play mixed with luck and a lot of skill saved them from dropping a 10-point lead to their rivals and their 6th straight loss.
"We finally ended our drought and beat OU," Andrew Jones said as the Longhorns move to 2-5 in games decided by 3 points or less.
It was ugly and Texas almost lost, but the fan next to me said it best. "Any game where Texas beats Oklahoma is a good game."
Texas fills huge need with the commitment of Matt ColemanWhen former Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor decided to forego his senior season and take his talents to the NBA, there was a glaring hole on the talented Texas roster coming into the season. The Longhorns lack a true point guard, one who knows when to facilitate for others, and one who knows when to make plays for himself. Taylor would have also been the only senior on the roster, bringing much needed experience.
On Monday, Shaka Smart landed Oak Hill Academy point guard Matt Coleman, the No.26 player in the nation to his 2017 recruiting class, which already includes three four-star commits in guard Jase Febres and forwards Jericho Sims and Royce Hamm. Coleman chose Texas over Duke, marking the second time in as many years Shaka Smart has landed a top-flight recruit over a blue blood basketball school (Center Jarett Allen committed to Texas over Kansas). Coleman has been recruited by Smart since he was in the eighth grade, when Smart was just getting started at VCU. Coleman played for Smart at the FIBA under-18 World Championships, further cultivating their relationship.
â€œItâ€™s the perfect fit,â€ Coleman said.
Coleman is a pass first, playmaking point guard, something Texas desperately needs. Kerwin Roach and Andrew Jones have assumed the duties this year, but havenâ€™t been able to get the offense going in the right direction. With Coleman running the show, Roach and Jones can have a lot more time off the ball, where they are more comfortable. Coleman plays an off-the-dribble style of point guard, getting into the lane and dishing to the teammates around him. At Texas, he will have multiple outside shooters to get the ball to. Texas can run a lot of three guard lineups with the addition of Coleman (something Smart ideally wants), giving more freedom to guys like Eric Davis and Jase Febres to move about the court in a way they are not able to with the current point guard situation.
While there are multiple reasons Texas is struggling on the hardwood this year, one of the main reasons is the lack of a pure point guard. In the 2017 class, Matt Coleman is about as pure as it gets. One would be hard-pressed to find a better fit for any program in the country than Coleman and Texas, and despite the on the court struggles this season Shaka Smart got his biggest win of the year on Monday.
Texas Basketball loses a thriller to Michigan in Ann Arbor 50-53Offense was optional in this rough and ugly game for both sides. The Texas Longhorns shot 20-52 on the night and Michigan was close behind them, shooting 20-48 from the floor. The two teams together tallied 26 turnovers and neither did an adequate job of rebounding on offense. Texas had just with 7 offensive rebounds and Michigan just 5.
For most of the game it was all Michigan as they took the lead with 18 minutes in the first half, at one point leading by 10, before the Longhorns whittled it down with 14:40 left in the game. The run began as Texas fought prior to the half, with James Banks stealing the ball and throwing it down to Kerwin Roach who funneled it down to Tevin Mack to start a run. Mack then turned around to knock down a three, sending the Longhorns into the half down by three on the road.
From there it was a back and forth fight with the lead never extending past 3 points for either team. The Longhorns missed a series of easy layups that could have put the team up by an insurmountable number, and down the line Michigan couldn't pick the correct shot.
Neither team could execute off the other team's blunders.
It came down to the final seconds. Texas was unable to get much going in the paint all night long, and Jarrett Allen fouling out with a minute left didn't help the Longhorns maintain the lead in the last seconds. After Michigan's Moritz Wagner hit the front end of his 1-and-1 and missed the second, Texas whiffed on the rebound and Michigan got the ball and put it back in for a three-point play to put the Wolverines up by 1 with 20 seconds left. After futile efforts by Texas on offense trying to get the ball down low unsuccessfully, the Longhorns put up several poor shots. The end result was a scoreless 2 minutes of basketball to end the game.
The confusion and poor offense was interspersed with amazing shows of talent and capability. The Shaka press worked like a charm, forcing numerous late game turnovers that turned into easy layups that Texas missed. In the end, it was once again youth and inconsistency that lost the day for the Longhorns.
The game ball for the Longhorns goes to Tevin Mack, who once again has been the brightest spot for this Texas Basketball team this year. Mack was the only player for the Longhorns to eclipse double digit points, with 18, shooting 5-11 and 3-6 from three-point land.
The only other player who had a significant impact on the floor was Jarrett Allen. Allen, as a big man, guided the ball to his teammates for 5 assists despite having limited playing time due to foul trouble all game long.
Once shots start falling for the Longhorns, players like Eric Davis find their groove, and players like James Banks, Andrew Jones, and Jarrett Allen become comfortable with the new level of play. If all cylinders are clicking, this Texas team could be a wrecking ball.
Until then they're 4-4 and inconsistent.
Mavericks down Longhorns 72-61The first home loss of the season was an ugly one.
UT-Arlington came into the Frank Erwin Center with a record of 0-11 against the flagship school, but they left no doubt in the minds of Longhorn fans which school is better on the hardwood. The Mavericks dominated Texas to the tune of 72-61.
Against the Mavericks the Longhorns shot 39% from the field, 3-23 from three.
It was a struggle from tip-off as the Longhorns' offense was lackadaisical and the defense let the Mavericks move the ball at-will. The only thing that allowed Texas to lead for most the first half was the fact that at one point the Mavericks were 0-12 from three-point range.
However, after Kevin Hervey tied the game up at 27 and then put the Mavs up 30-27 with a three, there was no looking back. UTA settled in and went 7-14 from three and over 60% from the field for the rest of the night unchallenged by the Longhorn defense.
UT-Arlington ended the contest shooting 46.6% and four UTA players finished with double digit points. It was the combination of Kevin Hervey and Drew Charles that gave the Longhorns problems. Hervey led the team with 10 rebounds and 18 points and Drew Charles shot 4-6 from three point land.
The lack of strength down-low was apparent as the Longhorns were out-rebounded in both phases of the game - 21 to 27 defensive rebounds and 35-41 offensive rebounds. The lack of a point guard was even more apparent as Texas committed 16 turnovers.
The only shining spots all night came from Tevin Mack and Jarrett Allen. Jarrett Allen collected a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds and Tevin Mack scored the team high 19 going 8-14 from the floor.
As for the team's response, they believe this rocky start will soon pass and they get more comfortable.
After the game, Shaka Smart stated, "We're a young team. It's not all going to be great in one day... We knew going into the season there was going to need to be a great deal of growth throughout the season."
It seems the Texas players are buying into this message of growth. Team leader Kerwin Roach explained some of the confusion on the court by saying, "I wouldn't say it's a hangover. We're just figuring some things out... It's early in the season."
On the other end UTA coach Scott Cross smiled as he said, "This will definitely go down as one of the biggest wins in our basketball program." Kevin Hervey told the media, "It's gonna be a pretty big party. We're going to celebrate."
Now the Longhorns are on a three-game losing skid and have Alabama and Michigan upcoming. Shaka Smart needs to find a way to instill some fight in this extremely young team or the next few games could be rockier than the last three.
Previewing the Texas Basketball SeasonThe Texas Longhorns Menâ€™s Basketball team opens the season on Friday night against Incarnate Word at the Erwin Center in Austin. While the Longhorns finished the 2015-2016 campaign with a respectable 20-13 final record, Shaka Smart's inaugural season in Austin had a little bit of everything thrown in it. A mix of experienced veterans and exciting freshman set the Longhorns up for a very good season and possibly a deep run in the NCAA tournament until â€œthe shot.â€
With six key players from last yearâ€™s team not returning due to graduation or leaving early for the NBA, Smart had several roster spots to fill. The Longhorns brought in guards Andrew Jones and Jacob Young, along with big men Jarrett Allen, James Banks, Mareik Isom, and Tulane transfer Jacob Osetkowski (Osetkowski is not eligible to play this season due to NCAA transfer rules). This transition sees Texas going from a team with five seniors and one junior, to just three seniors.
With inexperience comes opportunity, which means Texas will once again have minutes up for grabs. Expect the Longhorns, at least early, to feature a nine, maybe even ten-man rotation. With the abundance of combo guards and the forward/center type of big man, Texas will feature a variety of lineup combinations to see what works best. The one certainty with this Texas roster is that there is no shortage of athletes - just the way Shaka Smart likes it. Texas will be able to truly play the havoc defense that made Smart famous at VCU, something he had to shy away from at times last season due to the lack of correct personnel to run it. The Longhorns will also be able to get up and down the floor very quickly, featuring lots of outside shooting that will keep other teams on their heels. With that being said, the go-to lineups and rotation are far from set.
Here is a quick synopsis on the ten players I expect to see in the rotation early in the season.
Kerwin Roach Jr. (So.): Probably the most athletic player on the team, can jump out of the gym. Not a great shooter, but good instincts that could help him in his increased point guard role.
Kendal Yancy (Sr.): The leader, and junkyard dog. Yancy will guard the opposing teamâ€™s best player on any given night. Has shown some ability to get to the basket, but isnâ€™t someone youâ€™d go to on the final play of the game.
Andrew Jones (Fr.): The prized freshman from Irving MacArthur. Jones is the closest thing the Longhorns have to a point guard on the roster, displaying good handles and playmaking skills. Jones and Roach will be splitting the vast majority of the point guard duties, and it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, takes the majority of the minutes.
Eric Davis Jr. (So.): Davis is the most skilled offensive player on the Longhorns. With a sweet shot from deep, and the ability to slash and get to the basket, a lot of the Texas offense will be run through Davis.
Tevin Mack (So.): Mack will see a lot of time at the power forward spot, although he is more of a natural small forward. Mack is a high volume shooter who can get hot at any time. When he is on the floor, Texas will be able to spread the ball out more, and will make opponents keep one eye on Mack.
Shaq Cleare (Sr.): Cleare was one of the surprises on the Texas roster last season, stepping in nicely when Cam Ridley went down with a broken foot early in the season. Cleare is a nice post presence on both ends of the floor, and is a good rebounder as well. Being the only senior in the frontcourt with experience at Texas, Cleare will see plenty of playing time throughout the season.
James Banks (Fr.): Banks is perhaps the biggest â€œprojectâ€ on the Texas team. With freakishly long arms and an impressive 6-10 240 build for a Freshman, Banks has the makeup to be successful at Texas, although it might take him some time to get acclimated to the college game.
Jarrett Allen (Fr.): The top ranked center in the country coming out of high school, Jarett Allen is a potential lottery pick in next yearâ€™s NBA draft. Allen, another 6-11 235 freshman who is as athletic as they come. With his ability to run the floor and hit the mid-range jumper, along with his rim protecting and rebound skills, Allen will be a starter very early for this Texas team, for good reason.
Mareik Isom (Sr.): Isom played his first three years at mid-major power house, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Bringing NCAA tournament experience and an outside shot that must be paid attention to. Isom shot 39.6% from deep last season at ULAR, a mark that will make defenses turn their heads.
Texas heads into the season ranked no. 21, the third highest ranked Big 12 team out of four, behind Kansas (3) and West Virginia (20). The expectations are high for this team on the 40 Acres, and they should be. It will take some time for everyone to get used to each other and adjust, but by the time conference play rolls around, Texas will be a very good basketball team. Their ceiling is as high as they want it to be, and we get to see the first chapter of the 2016-17 season on Friday night.
Texas Longhorns Basketball Season PredictionIn anticipation for Shaka Smart's second season on The 40 Acres, HornSports college basketball writer Chris Flanagan predicts how the season will play out for the Longhorns and Shaka Smart in his second season on the 40 Acres.
The Longhorns will not have a serious test until the Legends Classic Championship Round in Brooklyn. They should easily handle the first 3 games at home (Incarnate Word, Louisiana Monroe and Eastern Washington) and Northwestern is a mediocre team, so look for a Texas vs. Notre Dame or Colorado matchup on 11/22. These two teams will be bubble teams throughout the season, and with a very weak non-conference schedule, the Longhorns need to win this tournament.
Beyond the Legends Classic, the Longhorns play 4 teams from Power 5 conferences: Alabama, Arkansas (in Houston), @Georgia and @Michigan. Not one of these 4 teams are ranked in the Top 25 and all but Michigan missed the NCAA tournament last year. These 4 teams could break out and be elite teams this year but preseason expectations are that they will not be very good.
The non-conference schedule is important not only for Texas but the overall strength of the Big 12. They must do well to set themselves up for what will be a tough Big 12 slate of games. I think they will.
Non-conference record prediction: 12-1*
Big 12 Conference Play
The Big 12 is not as strong as it has been in years past, but with 3 teams going to the Sweet 16 last year, the conference has established itself as a premier basketball conference. Every Big 12 coach has made an appearance in the NCAA tournament. Every team has talent, but there must be a winner and a loser. Texas won 11 games in-conference last season, which was tied for the highest since the Big 12 moved to the round robin format in 2011. So no pressure right?
The Longhorns begin conference play with 4 winnable games, 2 of which are on the road (Kansas State and Iowa State). Then they play West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas, and Oklahoma before the SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchup against Georgia. Yikes.
That's a rough stretch.
If the Longhorns go 6-2 headed into the game against Georgia, they will be a legit contender for the Big 12 title. If they are 4-4 or worse, it could be a sophomore slump for Shaka Smart.
Overall, I believe they will set a new record for wins in the Big 12 round robin era, but not by much.
Big 12 record prediction: 13-5
Conference finish prediction: 2nd
Overall record prediction: 25-6
After the bye, Texas will play Texas Tech. It will be close, but Texas should prevail. After Oklahoma upsets Baylor (See Big 12/National preview), Texas will advance to the championship game but lose to the Kansas Jayhawks.
Big 12 tournament result: Runners Up
Overall record: 27-7
Seed earned: 4
NCAA result: Round of 32 loss
Overall record: 28-8