Texas Basketball: 3 reasons why the Longhorns will make the Final Four

Dylan Disu, Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Dylan Disu, Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Hunter, Texas basketball Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The biggest win during the regular season in a long time for the Texas basketball program arrived for head coach Chris Beard on the night of Nov. 16 at the brand-new Moody Center in Austin. Texas dominated the No. 2 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs and head coach Mark Few to the tune of a massive 93-74 win in the third game of the regular season.

This win over Gonzaga moves the Longhorns to a mark of 3-0 (0-0 Big 12) on the season. Texas also has wins over the UTEP Miners on Nov. 7 and the Houston Christian Huskies on Nov. 10.

But the challenges are far from over during the non-conference slate for Beard and the Longhorns. Texas still has some difficult opponents remaining on the non-conference schedule this season, including the No. 9 Creighton Blue Jays (Dec. 1), No. 23 Illinois Fighting Illini, and No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers.

For the time being, though, there is plenty to celebrate for this Longhorns team as the outlook for the season has now gone from optimistic to something just shy of pollyannaish. There’s a reason for the heightened expectations this season given how good Texas looked on the court at the Moody Center in the win over Gonzaga.

Why Chris Beard, Tyrese Hunter, and Texas basketball are now a worthy Final Four team

With that in mind, here’s a look at three reasons why the Longhorns are a team that’s more than capable of making the Final Four this season.

Tyrese Hunter and Dillon Mitchell can lift this team to new heights this season

There are four players that are new additions for the Longhorns this season that could all be massive difference-makers for this squad as they look to find even more postseason success in 2023 compared to the tourney run earlier this year.

Those four key new additions for the Longhorns include senior shooting guard Sir’Jabari Rice, true freshman point guard Arterio Morris, true freshman forward Dillon Mitchell, and sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter. The latter two of the new additions for the Longhorns look to be the biggest difference-makers early this season, though.

What Texas is getting out of Hunter is painfully apparent, in the best of ways coming out of the Gonzaga game. Hunter is giving the Longhorns a true alpha dog on the floor that can be the primary facilitator and initiator for the offense. He’s a better primary ball-handler than Texas had in any of the guards in the backcourt rotation last season.

And when Hunter is able to get his outside and mid-range games going, he’s going to be one of the most lethal guards in the entire country. He was on fire in the win over Gonzaga, shooting an efficient 9-of-14 from the field and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, Mitchell is bringing a different level of energy to the table playing at the forward position for the Longhorns. He’s an insanely bouncy forward that can live above the rim. His vertical ability played a big role in Texas challenging Gonzaga the way they did on the boards in the win on Nov. 16.

If Mitchell can start to expand his game to be more of a threat on the offensive end of the floor shooting from the mid-range and beyond the arc, his NBA Draft stock will skyrocket simultaneous to the Texas offense becoming much more potent.