Texas Basketball: Stiff Big 12 competition makes non-conference crucial

A nice start to the regular season for the Texas basketball program came with the double-digit win yesterday over Northern Colorado.

The Texas basketball program heads into the 2019-20 regular season with heightened expectations coming off an NIT Championship last season. Head Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart needs to have his team better prepared to consistently excel this season compared to last. Missing yet another NCAA Tournament bid and having another letdown in the Big 12 this season could mean Smart sitting on one of the hottest seats in the entire country early on.

The Texas Longhorns basketball program started off their 2019-20 campaign on the right foot with a nice more than 20-point victory over the Northern Colorado Bears at home at the Frank Erwin Center. Competition will soon stiffen up for the Longhorns, but for now Smart and his squad can feel good about how the regular season started.

This will be a much different looking team in parts for Smart this season. He lost three extremely pivotal pieces from last season’s roster. That includes big man Dylan Osetkowski, center Jaxson Hayes, and shooting guard Kerwin Roach Jr. Osetkowski and Roach Jr. both ran out of eligibility and Hayes was a one-and-done after his freshman season.

Leaders for this Longhorns team should be the starting guard pairing that features sophomore Courtney Ramey and junior Matt Coleman. This is the time that junior big man Jericho Sims finally needs to step to the forefront and assume the starting role at the four or the five this season. Sims showed flashes in the past, but never enough to win a starting role in the frontcourt rotation.

Coming off the 21-16 record the Longhorns finished up with last season, and with the NIT Championship over Lipscomb, there’s opportunity to make a significant jump in the Big 12. But they will have to work through a difficult schedule that features difficult non-conference opponents.

Now that Northern Colorado is out of the way for the regular season opener, the Longhorns now have to travel to face the No. 23 ranked Purdue Boilermakers this weekend. Texas also has to deal with the likes of the Georgetown Hoyas, Texas A&M Aggies, Providence Friars, and the LSU Tigers in non-conference play.

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The Longhorns are taking on the Boilermakers on Nov. 9, with tip-off set for 6 p.m. CT. That will be one of the most challenging non-conference games of the season for the Longhorns. But Smart and his team got past former Purdue star guard Carsen Edwards last season, and could do it again to continue this strong start this year.

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