Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns open NCAA Tournament vs. Arizona State

Arizona State (10) vs. Texas (7) – Midwest Region
March 20, 8:40 PM CT on CBS

The Texas Longhorns make a return to the NCAA Tournament following a one-year hiatus. Rick Barnes hopes to stick around for a little while.

Texas (23-10) will play in its 15th NCAA tournament in 16 years under Barnes. The Longhorns will look to get out of the third round for the first time since 2008. Four straight years Texas has been bounced in its first or second tournament game before missing the Big Dance last season. What will the Longhorns need to do to get past Arizona State (21-11)?

Texas must control the boards. The Longhorns rank fourth in the country in offensive rebounds and 17th in rebounds allowed. Texas must get the easy put backs. Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes can do a lot of damage underneath the basket. The problem is Arizona State ranks 11th in rebounds allowed. This means…

Take high percentage shots

Texas guards are streaky shooters. Javan Felix. Martez Walker and Damarcus Croaker take a lot of 3-point shots. Felix especially needs to have a good game or it could be a long afternoon for Texas. Isaiah Taylor is at his best when he is driving and slashing into the lane. He has developed a nice shot close in. If Texas is unable to win the rebounding battle, the guards will need to hit their jumpers.

Texas turns the ball over 12 times a game. Arizona State is one better at 11. Which team will be nervous and commit early turnovers? This could be the telling stat at the end of the game. Texas must protect the ball and not make any careless turnovers.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Longhorns

Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Demarcus Holland vs. Jahii Carson
Carson leads the Sun Devils in scoring, averaging 18.6 a game. Holland is Texas’ defensive stopper, and most likely will be guarding Carson. This will be a great matchup to watch all game.

Free throws
If the game is tight, free throws may decide the outcome. As a team, Arizona State shoots 69 percent from the line. Texas shoots 66 percent. Neither team has an automatic shooter. Missed free throws, either early in the game, or late, may come back to haunt one of these teams. Texas must make its free throws. If not, it will make a for another quick exit from the tournament.

Postseason experience
Jonathan Holmes is the only player with tournament experience. Arizona State hasn’t played in a NCAA tournament game since 2009. Nerves may be present early on. Texas will need to lean on Holmes until the jitters are gone. Barnes has been here plenty of times. His experience should help a young team get over any early hurdles.

No one expected Texas to be here. For many fans, the Longhorns are playing with house money. Barnes sees it differently, and he has a chance to prove to fans that he can take a team deep into the tournament. It all starts on Thursday.

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Hook’em Headlines is the Texas Longhorns blog for FanSided’s Sports Blog Network. We cover the latest Longhorn news and stories while providing some of the best analysis the web has to offer.
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Tags: Javan Felix Jonathan Holmes NCAA Basketball Tournament Rick Barnes Texas Longhorns Texas Longhorns Basketball

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