There’s a different ora surrounding the Texas basketball program this season, off to a solid 4-0 start after the Nov. 15 win over Prairie View A&M.
A persistent problem for the Texas basketball program over the course of the last three seasons under the direction of head coach Shaka Smart was losing to teams they shouldn’t. Losing to those inferior opponents usually caused Texas to finish outside of where they intended to during the postseason.
In three of the last four seasons, the Texas Longhorns basketball program finished without an NCAA Tournament bid. Most Texas hoops fans would likely say that they would rather see their team finish with a first round loss in the NCAA Tournament than win an NIT Championship (like they did last season).
However, it appears that the Longhorns are turning over a new leaf on the hardwood with their play so far this season. Although it is still too early to tell if Smart did instill a new demeanor in the locker room this season compared to year’s past.
Through four games this season, the Longhorns are commanding the pace of play and still finding success behind solid defense. Texas is very consistent so far, scoring at least 67 points in each of their four games this season. They also have allowed more than 57 points just once (and that was to a ranked opponent).
Texas does have a marquee victory under their belt with the road victory over the previously No. 23 ranked Purdue Boilermakers by the final score of 70-66. That goes along with three mediocre wins over non-major conference teams in California Baptist, Northern Colorado, and Prairie View A&M.
That win over the aforementioned Prairie View A&M Panthers might’ve been the worst outing to date for the Longhorns this season. The good news was that the Longhorns still emerged victorious by the final score of 70-56. If this were last season’s squad or three seasons ago, Texas might be losing that game, even at home.
Texas has newfound leadership behind solid backcourt play from the likes of junior guard Matt Coleman and sophomore Courtney Ramey. Coleman is averaging 14.5 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, behind an insane clip from beyond the arc above 58 percent. He’s also shooting better than 55 percent from the field.
There is also a new wave of talent flowing through the Forty Acres from the 2019 signing class. The Longhorns look to have a bright future behind established players such as Ramey and true freshmen like shooting guard Donovan Williams and big man Will Baker. Williams had himself two breakout games thus far in eventual double-digit Texas wins where he scored in double-figures off the bench.
If there’s more contributions coming off the bench in the scoring department, that is another reason to believe that this Longhorns team has a different swagger to them. It just seemed like there was something missing, especially off the bench, when the Longhorns took to the court for the last two seasons.
A new spark from that freshmen class and an inspirational return from fourth-year shooting guard Andrew Jones, and the Longhorns should be carrying a rejuvenated energy thus far this season. Texas is bringing that same defensive spark to the table with more offensive firepower. That bodes well for the fortunes on the hardwood for the Longhorns this season.
Up next for the 4-0 Longhorns on the hardwood is a big Nov. 21 showdown in New York City against the Georgetown Hoyas.