Texas Basketball: 3 key players struggling mightily for UT

Kadin Shedrick, Texas basketball
Kadin Shedrick, Texas basketball / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Texas basketball and head coach Rodney Terry have not gotten off to the start to Big 12 play envisioned for this team just a couple of months ago. Texas has dropped two of its first three games of conference play, with both losses coming to unranked opponents.

Worst of all for the Longhorns among the two Big 12 losses was the defeat at the hands of the West Virginia Mountaineers 76-73 on the road in Morgantown on Jan. 13. West Virginia got its first win in Big 12 play and snapped a three-game losing streak by topping the Longhorns last weekend at WVU Coliseum.

A handful of key Texas basketball contributors are going through cold stretches to start Big 12 play

Texas's other two games in Big 12 play resulted in a clutch last-minute 74-73 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats on the road on Jan. 9 and a double-digit loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders at the Moody Center in Austin in the opener on Jan. 6.

If not for a clutch late-fourth quarter jump shot from senior guard Max Abmas, the Longhorns would be 0-3 to start the Big 12 slate. Terry and the Longhorns are essentially one clutch shot away from getting off to a very disastrous start to conference play in the final year in the Big 12.

Here's a look at three Longhorns players who are struggling mightily and must step up for the rest of Big 12 play.

Chendall Weaver, G

Former UT-Arlington Mavericks sophomore transfer guard Chendall Weaver has struggled to even make a mark on games on the stat sheet for the Longhorns in the last few weeks. Weaver hasn't scored over five points in a game in nearly a month since he registered nine points in 21 minutes off the bench in a double-digit win over the LSU Tigers on Dec. 16.

In five games this month, Weaver has yet to shoot better than 50 percent for the field or over 33 percent from beyond the arc. Limited playing time and inconsistent shooting performances have cost Weaver regarding his production and efficiency for the Longhorns in the last month.

What's pretty confounding about Weaver's numbers this season is the dip in outside shooting efficiency. Weaver was among the most lethal true freshmen sharpshooting guards in the nation for UTA last season during his WAC Freshman of the Year campaign.

Weaver's three-point shooting percentage has dipped from over 40 percent last season to just above 26 percent so far this campaign.

Texas has modified Weaver's game and role compared to what he did for UTA last season. He was firing from deep at a higher volume (over 2.5 three-point field goal attempts per game compared to 1.2 this season) last season compared to this year.

Another contributing factor to Weaver's drip in three-point shooting efficiency is the inability to make contested baskets. Weaver was among the best tough-shot makers in the nation last season, hitting guarded looks from deep at a clip of 48 percent.

This season, Weaver is 0-of-5 on contested three-point field goal attempts.

Given the scoring issues Texas is having in the backcourt in the last few games, outside of Abmas, it would make sense to let Weaver get more shots up from deep. Texas doesn't have another guard outside of junior Tyrese Hunter and Abmas that is averaging over seven points per game this season.

Last season, the Longhorns had redshirt senior two-guard Sir'Jabari Rice who provided a massive scoring boost off the bench in the backcourt. Texas is missing that backcourt scoring presence that Rice provided.

Let him take a more aggressive mindset when he's got good looks from beyond the arc. That could help him get a better rhythm and more confidence on the offensive end of the floor.

A better rhythm on easy jump shots could lead to Weaver having more confidence when taking those tough contested three-pointers.

The loss to West Virginia is a good example of a contest where the Longhorns desperately needed a bench scorer such as Weaver to step up in a winnable game on the road in Big 12 play. Weaver had a shot to break out of his scoring slump

Despite playing the most minutes off the bench in a game he's had in nearly a month (18), Weaver only registered five points. He got to the line an ample number of times, but only converted on 50 percent of six attempts from the stripe.

If Weaver can find his shooting stroke in the next few Big 12 games, that could give the Longhorns a much-needed scoring boost in the backcourt.