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Tennessee NCAA Tournament Preview: A Quick Look At Texas

Photo via Texas Athletics

Tennessee basketball is back in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for a third straight year as they look to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.

Standing in Rick Barnes and the Vols way is a familiar foe— the Texas Longhorns. Barnes spent 17 seasons as the head man in Austin and the two teams have met on the hardwood each of the last two seasons.

Let’s take a quick look at Texas.

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How Texas Got Here

Texas earned a seven-seed and an at large bid in the NCAA Tournament by posting a 20-12 (9-9 Big 12) record ahead of the NCAA Tournament.

The Longhorns played two extremely difficult non conference games, losing at a neutral site against UConn and on the road at Marquette. Rodney Terry’s second Texas team picked up solid non conference wins over LSU, UT Arlington and UNC-Greensboro but didn’t have any elite wins in non conference play.

Then Texas was pretty average in an extremely strong Big 12. They posted a 9-9 record and never had a winning or losing streak of more than two games during the stretch. The Longhorns went 4-5 on the road in conference play and 5-4 at home.

Texas’ home win over Baylor is its only top 30 KenPom win all season while a road loss at West Virginia and a home loss against UCF were its only truly bad losses this season.

The Longhorns leaned on their defense in their NCAA Tournament opener against Colorado State, holding the Rams to just three points in the final 15 minutes of the first half before earning a 56-44 win.

Where Texas Thrives

These next two sections are going to be difficult because Texas isn’t really elite or bad at anything. They’re just pretty good to pretty bad in most everything they do.

But it’s an offense first Texas team that ranks 27th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency including fourth in the Big 12 during conference play. The Longhorns have a stout back court, which we’ll get to in a bit, and rank in the top 85 nationally in both two-point and three-point shooting percentage.

While the Longhorns shoot 35.6% from deep this is really a team that leans more on their two-point offense, ranking 244th nationally with 20.2 three-point attempts per game.

Texas is solid across the board defensively but does a particularly strong job forcing turnovers and defending two-point attempts despite not starting anyone taller than 6-foot-9.

Where Texas Struggles

There’s not a ton to choose from here but what most stands out is that Texas has been pretty average on the glass this season. The Longhorns are average on the offensive glass but have really struggled on the defensive glass.

Former Vanderbilt big man Dylan Disu is Texas’ biggest starter at 6-foot-9. Freaky sophomore athlete Dillon Mitchell is 6-foot-8 while 6-foot-11 Kadin Shedrick is the biggest Longhorn in the rotation, playing 17.4 minutes per game.

Texas struggles to defend the three-point where opponents are shooting 34.4% from deep. Those numbers were way worse in Big 12 play where Longhorn opponents shot 36.9% from deep.

Lastly, Texas has struggled to get to the foul line this season, scoring just 17% of its points from the foul line.

Standout Longhorns

It starts for Texas in the backcourt with the duo Max Abmas and Tyrese Hunter. Abmas, an Oral Roberts transfer, leads the team with 17 points per game on 43% shooting from the field and 36% shooting from the three-point line.

Abmas is just 6-foot and played point guard at Oral Roberts but junior Tyrese Hunter runs the point for the Longhorns more than Abmas.

Hunter is averaging 11 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 34% from three-point line. While Hunter runs the point more than Abmas they both lead the team with 4.2 assists per game each.

Dylan Disu is the interior scorer for Texas. He’s averaging 15.7 points and five rebounds per game while shooting 46% from three on 84 attempts this season.

Sophomore forward Dillon Mitchell doesn’t shoot but is a freak athlete, averaging 9.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

Role wings Ithiel Horton and Brock Cunnigham are capable three-point shooters.

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