Texas Basketball: 3 bold predictions for Empire Classic final vs. UConn

Dillon Mitchell, Texas basketball. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Dillon Mitchell, Texas basketball. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rodney Terry, Texas basketball
Rodney Terry, Texas basketball /

Texas pulls out a 5-point upset win to hand UConn its first defeat of the 2023-24 season

UConn will test many of the shortcomings we’ve seen from the Longhorns early in the season. The Huskies have one of the most complete teams and best starting units in the nation. All five of UConn’s starters are scoring in the double figures early this season.

Per Kenpom, UConn is the only team in the country this season that ranks in the top six in adjusted offense and adjusted defense.

If a Louisville team, granted that does look vastly improved this year, that won four games last season pushed Texas to the brink in their first game in the Empire Classic, it’s bad to think about what UConn might do to the Longhorns on short rest. This Texas team is pretty banged up right now. Shedrick is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Hunter suffered an injury against Louisville.

Texas is also still missing senior big man Dylan Disu, who is projected to return to the frontcourt rotation in mid-December as he recovers from a lower-body injury.

On paper, this looks like a daunting matchup for the Longhorns. UConn has more length, more consistent scoring, better rebounding, and better rim protection than the Longhorns in the starting five and with its top three reserve players.

Texas has to exploit its advantages in this game in the turnover battle, shooting from beyond the arc and the charity stripe. The Longhorns turned the ball over a season-low four times against Louisville. And Texas took advantage of nine Louisville turnovers for nearly 20 points.

UConn has also been up and down with its free-throw shooting efficiency this season. The Huskies have shot worse than 65 percent from the line in half its games. If Texas can shoot at least 10 percent better from the stripe than UConn, that can put the Longhorns in a spot to keep the game tight late in the second half and within striking distance of an upset victory.

Next. 2 studs, 1 dud from Texas' clutch win over Louisville. dark