Texas Men’s Basketball’s Nonstop Highlight Reel

Since returning from the Bahamas, Texas men’s basketball has not lost a game. The Horns beat UT-Arlington 80-73 in an overtime thriller accompanied by yet another viral video of freshman Kerwin Roach, a dunk that made SportsCenter‘s Top 10 as the best play of the day. The SportsCenter anchor said Roach made his case for dunk of the year … and it’s only December. Texas’ next game was a 59-49 win over Samford. This time, Big Cheese, formerly known as senior Cam Ridley, had his turn in the spotlight. With Roach’s monstrous dunk and Ridley’s in-bounds slam from Roach, it seems SportsCenter cannot go a few days without a Texas hoops video.

Clouded by the Cam-Slam—trademark pending—was Prince Ibeh’s tailbone injury. Against Samford, Ibeh took a nasty fall and landed straight on his tailbone. Ibeh is questionable for tonight’s game against 1-7 UTSA; Texas is a 23-point favorite. Texas’ win over Samford was not the prettiest of wins, but it was a win nonetheless. Texas’ 59 points were the lowest the Horns have scored all season. With 40 total fouls in the game, it was another slow one filled with a lot of free-throws.

As previously mentioned, the NCAA’s new foul rules have increased the number of personal fouls per game substantially. Currently Texas ranks 67th in most personal fouls per game with 22.3. Last season, the Horns averaged 16.3 fouls per game.

While Big Cheese has been stealing the spotlight lately after being one rebound away from yet another double-double against Samford, senior Javan Felix has been putting on quite a show himself. The guard from New Orleans, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and taller than head coach Shaka Smart, put up 18 points against UT-Arlington and 11 points against Samford. In both of these games, Felix was Texas’ second leading scorer. In Felix’s fourth and final season at Texas, he has emerged as an important offensive weapon: When Felix gets hot, there’s no stopping him. Texas’ first 6 points against Samford were back-to-back threes from Felix. Despite low-scoring efforts in both the Shanghai exhibition against Washington (4 points) and against Texas A&M in the Bahamas (0 points), Felix has put up double digits in every other game.

Tonight’s game against UTSA will be the last game Texas has before playing perennial juggernaut North Carolina on Saturday. UNC entered the season ranked first, but then fell to third place after getting upset by Northern Iowa 71-67. Aside from that upset, the Tar Heels have been perfect, even beating second-ranked Maryland 89-81 last week, and do not play another game before coming to Austin on Saturday.

Texas and UNC have only met nine times on the basketball court, and not since 2013. Texas is 6-3 overall against UNC and 4-1 in the last five meetings. Texas is on a two-game win-streak against the Heels; no player on Texas’ current roster has ever lost to UNC. The Horns and Heels also have a unique historical tie: Former Texas head football coach Mack Brown was the head coach at UNC for 10 years before coming to Austin.

Texas-UNC will be a big one for Shaka Smart and crew, the Horns’ first big matchup of the season. In a conference with five top-25 ranked teams, Texas will need all the big-game practice it can get before Big 12 conference play begins. Luckily for the Horns, Texas has not lost a game at home so far this season.

The Texas vs. UTSA game will air on Longhorn Network at 7 p.m. tonight. For those already planning for the UNC game, that tip-off is at 4:15 p.m on ESPN.

 

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