Big 12 (28-6, 13-3)
Big Wins: 11/24 vs Tennessee (97-78), 12/2 at UCLA (63-61), 2/11 Kansas (72-69)
Bad Losses: 1/12 at Missouri (84-97), 1/30 at Texas A&M (63-80), 3/1 at Texas Tech (80-83)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, Second Round loss to USC
Coach: Rick Barnes (15-15 in 15 NCAA appearances)
D.J. Augustin, Sophomore, Guard, 19.8 ppg, 5.7 apg, 2.9 rpg
A.J. Abrams, Junior, Guard, 16.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Justin Mason, Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 ppg, 2.6 apg, 4.2 rpg
Damion James, Sophomore, Forward, 13.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Connor Atchley, Junior, Center, 9.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg
Alexis Wangmene, Freshman, Forward, 2.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Dexter Pittman, Sophomore, Center, 2.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Guess who is second in the nation in fewest turnovers per game. Washington State? Butler? Those might make more sense, but it is the Longhorns of Texas who commit only 9.4 turnovers per game, just behind UMBC’s 9.2. Most of the credit can go to point guard D.J. Augustin. The sophomore was mostly overshadowed last season by Kevin Durant. But now that Durant is off in the NBA, this is Augustin’s team. He will not only find his teammates, Augustin also leads the team in scoring.
But when it comes to shooting the long ball, Augustin mostly gives way to backcourt mate A.J. Abrams. Abrams hits about three long balls per game. He could stand to be a little more aggressive going to the basket, but Abrams does what he does very well. Completing the backcourt starters is Justin Mason. Mason is not as flashy as his backcourt counterparts, but he will do the little things and play great defense.
Why They Can Disappoint:
While Texas does not commit many turnovers, they also do not have a lot of assists. For a team that scores 75.9 points per game, they should certainly have more than 12.6 assists per contest. Augustin alone almost has half of those assists and the team needs to make the opposing defense work a little harder by moving the ball around. Instead, it often turns into a one-on-one battle. Fortunately for the Longhorns, most of the players on the team will not have much of a problem taking on a defender, but it is still nice to make them have to work a little more. Most of the time it will not be a big deal, but Texas will run into a few defenders who can handle them one-on-one sooner or later.
Who To Watch:
There are some big guys on Texas too. The biggest of them all is Connor Atchley. The The 6-10 junior stepped into a starting role this year and has become a surprisingly effective player. He will do some scoring in the paint, but can also step outside and hit the three-ball. On the other end of the floor, he is good for a couple blocks per game and really makes it difficult for anybody to the get to the basket easily. With Damion James by his side, the frontcourt deserves more credit than it receives. James could be a wing, but he is a more than effective power forward in this system. James is only 6-7, but he is a superb athlete who can score from anywhere on the floor and absolutely dominate the glass.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.9 (54th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.6 (77, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (116, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.1 (15, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (70, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.9 (56, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.5 (180, 9)
Rebound Margin: 3.1 (73, 4)
Assists Per Game: 12.6 (209, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 9.7 (2, 1)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Sweet Sixteen loss to Stanford
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