Texas basketball: 5 things to watch for vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Christian Bishop, Texas basketball
Christian Bishop, Texas basketball /

Texas basketball will welcome the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions into the Moody Center on Saturday as the Longhorns look to bounce back from their most recent defeat at the hands of Illinois.

The 85-78 overtime loss on Tuesday night inside Madison Square Garden was the first of the season for the Horns and one that they seemingly let get away after holding a five-point lead with 36 seconds to play.

On paper, the 3-7 Golden Lions look like no match for Texas’ experience and talent. That said, this Pine Bluff team is experienced in its own right and almost knocked off two Big 12 opponents earlier this season. TCU survived the Golden Lion’s 73-72, and Oklahoma just managed to pull away for a 66-58 victory.

Here are five things to watch for during the noon CT tip between Texas and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Storylines to watch for Texas basketball vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

1. How do the Horns bounce back from the first loss of the season?

The aforementioned loss on Tuesday against Illinois was one of heartbreak for the Longhorns.

It was a game they had a solid handle on for most of the second half, leading 56-46 with under eight minutes left. The Texas offense could not seem to capitalize on opportunities throughout the second half where they had real chances to break open the game.

Of course, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Illinois are not comparable in any sense. That said, I mentioned that Pine Bluff played TCU and Oklahoma down to the final minute and could give Texas a scare if the Horns are not ready to play.

A noon tip is also something to be aware of as, too often, teams can come out sleepwalking against an inferior opponent.

If the Longhorns play aggressively on both sides of the ball, they should have no problem beating a Pine Bluff team with limited weapons. If, however, Texas starts playing with its food, the Golden Lions will muck this game up and could make it an uncomfortable experience for Texas fans.

2. Can Timmy Allen carry momentum from his performance vs. Illinois?

Timmy Allen did not have anywhere near an ideal start to his fifth year of collegiate basketball. Allen averaged just 6.3 points and 40 percent shooting through the season’s first six games.

On Tuesday night inside Madison Square Garden, Allen scored 21 points on 9-of-18 from the field with eight assists and seven rebounds. He led the Longhorns in all three categories.

Allen made it known he was going to be aggressive early, scoring seven points in the game’s first three minutes. He was easily getting to the mid-post and seemed comfortable against whichever Illini defender was guarding him.

Most importantly, Allen looked confident and was not seen as an afterthought on the offensive end. He attempted 18 shots on Tuesday night compared to just 40 during the season’s first six games.

If Texas wants to compete for a National Championship, they will need Timmy Allen to contribute to this team in a significant way.

I expect Coach Beard to try and bottle Allen’s aggressiveness from Tuesday night, giving him many opportunities to initiate the offense against Pine Bluff.

3. What does the frontcourt rotation look like?

It is obvious this Texas team is missing an elite rim protector. That said, you have to work with the pieces you have, which for Coach Beard, has been a rotation of Dylan Disu and Christian Bishop at the center position.

Despite Disu starting every game this season, he and Bishop are both averaging 17 minutes per game.

One thing of note from Tuesday’s loss to Illinois was the minutes (or lack thereof) given to Disu. After starting the game, the junior played just nine total minutes (two in the second half/OT). It is unclear if this was a matchup-based decision or if Disu is dealing with an injury, but I expect more to be made clear with how minutes are allocated on Saturday.

Brock Cunningham played a season-high 21 minutes against Illinois and would be the obvious player to see an increase in minutes if Disu is dealing with an injury.

4. How does Texas contain Shaun Doss?

Shaun Doss is the player to note when looking at the Arkansas-Pine Bluff roster. The fifth-year senior leads the team with 17.9 points per game. He is a 6’5″ swingman, comfortable scoring from all three levels on the floor.

In the losses to TCU and Oklahoma, Doss scored 42 points while knocking down 5/6 of his three-point attempts. He is a microwave scorer who can heat up quickly and is not afraid to let it fly from anywhere on the court.

During Friday’s media availability, Coach Beard noted that his team must be ready to stop the versatile scorer.

"“Doss is a good player. We’ll have to gameplan for him, and we’ll have to do a great job of not letting him get to his spots and try to make it a difficult day for him. If you let him play his game, he’s as good as any 6’5″ scoring athlete in college basketball.”"

5. Christian Bishop’s hunt for 1K career points

Fifth-year senior Christian Bishop is just two buckets away from 1000 career points in his collegiate career, something Coach Beard addressed at his Friday media availability.

"“CB’s getting real close to getting to that 1000-point mark. We always kind of pay attention to those things. Christian Bishop’s a star, a leader of our team in so many ways. CB is a big part of what we’re doing around here. We always want to recognize the guys’ individual achievements as well.”"

Bishop tallied 724 points in 90 games at Creighton and has since added 272 points in 41 games as a Longhorn.

He certainly is not a score-first type of player and rarely gets offensive sets run through him. Coming up on this 1000-point mark is a testament to Bishop’s activity around the rim and his relentless effort on the offensive glass.

Next. 3 difference-makers off to hot starts for Texas this season. dark

Despite averaging just 4.9 PPG this season, Bishop has embraced his role off the bench and has given Coach Beard quality minutes at the five.

Expect Bishop to achieve that 1000-point mark on Saturday, followed by an acknowledgment of the achievement inside the Moody Center and on the broadcast.