Texas Basketball Preview: UT - Rio Grande Valley at FEC (6PM tip, LHN)
Line: Texas -25, O/U 139.5
Tonight, the Longhorns (no. 7, 5-1) take on the Texas-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (4-4) at the Frank Erwin Center. UT-RGV opened the season with a win over Texas A&M-International before being blown out by no. 11 Arizona, 104-50. They then beat Paul Quinn College 85-68 before losing to Northern Arizona, 89-87.
They got their revenge after playing UNA back-to-back and beating them in their second matchup, 82-80. They beat Cal State-Fullerton 72-67 after that. They hung in with Illinois before eventually losing, 94-85, and then lost to A&M-Corpus Christi 83-77.
Their starting lineup looks like this.
This is the probable Texas starting lineup (though Febres could start over Jones again).
Things I'd like to see out of this game:
• More floor time for Tre Mitchell.
Tre is averaging just 18.5 minutes per game this season, which is low considering he is a starter. He hasn't been getting into foul trouble, either. I'd like to see a good 26-28 minutes from him tonight. Texas needs to get him into a groove before conference plays starts, as he has the potential to be the team's leading scorer down the road.
• Continued success for Marcus Carr.
Carr had his breakout game against SHSU at the Greg on Monday night, going for 19 points and shooting 4/7 from three. I'd like to see him play with the same confidence he showed earlier this week in the rest of the games this season. Even if the shots aren't falling, I want him to keep shooting. He has to be a scoring threat for this offense to work so opponents can't just double the Texas forwards.
• Continued defensive execution.
The Longhorns are fifth in the nation in opponents' PPG at a stifling 54.8, and also are 34th in the nation in turnovers forced per game at nearly 18. To compete in conference, they're going to have to play defense at this level going forward, especially when Baylor is 12th in the nation in opponents' PPG at 56.7 and fourth in the nation in turnovers forced at 20.4.
• A bit more floor time for Devin Askew.
It's a crowded back court, but I think Askew has shown a lot, not so much offensively, but defensively. I really like his on-ball skills and effort, and he's building himself into a player with rock-solid defensive fundamentals. Really like where he's headed.
• Improved three-point percentage.
The Longhorns are 184th in the nation in three-point shooting at 32.8%, which is not going to get it done against Kansas, Baylor, Tech, or even now, surging Iowa State. Despite their defensive woes, UT-RGV is actually 77th in the nation in three-point percentage allowed at just 29.5%. It will be a good test to see how well the 'Horns can shoot form deep against a team that plays the deep-ball well.
Overall, this shouldn't be tough of a matchup for Texas. They have a pretty massive talent gap over UT-RVG, who has lost to some bad teams and gotten blown out by the good ones. We'll see if they can come out high energy.
DISU UPDATE: He's still working his way back. Said he wants to play in a few non-conference games before conference play starts in January, so look for him to come back pretty soon on a minutes restriction.