Getting the sixth win of the regular season shouldn’t be all that difficult for Texas basketball, taking on the McNeese State Cowboys on Nov. 30.
There’s one last shot for the Texas basketball program to respond in a big way after falling short against the Georgetown Hoyas by the final score of 82-66 in the 2K Empire Classic a little more than one week ago at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Head Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart did get his team back together for a solid win over the Cal Golden Bears in the third place game of the 2K Empire Classic in MSG the day after losing to Georgetown.
And since Georgetown appears to be a top 20-caliber team this season under former New York Knicks all-time great center and head coach Patrick Ewing, that win shouldn’t be too shameful for the Texas Longhorns basketball program. But Smart and the Longhorns did have a shot at taking on the previously No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils in the first place game in NYC, which was a missed opportunity.
Nonetheless, that loss to Georgetown did knock the Longhorns out of the AP Top 25 rankings just one week after they made their debut in the poll. The Longhorns got in the top 25 in the first place by taking care of business on the road against the Purdue Boilermakers (a ranked team at the time), 70-66.
There is one more shot for the Longhorns to make an impression to the poll voters and to add momentum heading into the month of December. On Nov. 30, Texas gets to take on McNeese State at home at the Frank Erwin Center. McNeese State comes in with a record of 2-5.
According to ESPN’s College Basketball Power Index, McNeese State ranks outside of the top 250 Division 1 programs in the nation. The same metric ranks Texas within the top 40 programs in the entire country so far this season.
Moreover, that loss to Georgetown is the only of the regular season so far for the Longhorns. They hold a record of 5-1 heading into this matchup against McNeese. This has to be one of the easier matchups of the non-conference slate.
Texas is heading into the meat of their non-conference schedule soon enough. They start their December slate off against the UAB Blazers on Dec. 3 before their premier showdown against the in-state rival Texas A&M Aggies tips off at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth on Dec. 8. Reigniting the Lone Star Showdown should be one of the focal points of this entire season for the Longhorns.
In the meantime, Texas should be able to lock down on a victory over two-win McNeese. McNeese and High Point are the two easiest opponents left during the regular season schedule for the Longhorns. They’ll be taking on tougher opponents like Providence, Texas A&M, and the deep and difficult Big 12 field the rest of the way.
Although, this will be an interesting test for the Longhorns frontcourt. Sophomore McNeese State big man Sha’markus Kennedy is averaging 16.4 points per game, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.9 assists. Junior Texas center Jericho Sims needs to matchup well against Kennedy to make sure that Smart gets his Longhorns out of the Erwin Center tomorrow with a win.
Smart and the Longhorns get a chance to put one of their best players of the season so far, big man Sims, on center stage. Take care of Kennedy, and the Longhorns should get their sixth win of the young season entering the December slate.