Texas forward Gerald Liddell (0) blocks a shot by California Baptist center Zach Pirog (33) during an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, in Austin, Texas. [NICK WAGNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

BEVO BEAT Men's Basketball

Men’s preview: No. 19 Texas vs. UT-Rio Grande Valley

Longhorns, Vaqueros meet for the first time in school history in Wednesday’s season opener

Posted November 24th, 2020


No. 19 Texas vs. UT-Rio Grande Valley

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Erwin Center (capacity 16,540)


TV/radio: Longhorn Network/104.9 The Horn

About the series: First meeting

TEXAS (0-0)
2GMatt Coleman IIISr.6-212.73.4*
3GCourtney RameyJr.6-310.93.9
1GAndrew JonesJr.6-411.52.3
22FKai JonesSoph.6-113.63.2
20FJericho SimsSr.6-89.78.2
Coach: Shaka Smart (90-78, 6th year at Texas; 253-134, 12th year overall)
*-indicates assists per game. All statistics from 2019-20 season.

About the Longhorns: Coach Shaka Smart said that six players have separated themselves in practice above the others. Where does that leave forwards Gerald Liddell or Royce Hamm Jr.? What about Kamaka Hepa or Brock Cunningham? Or Donovan Williams and Will Baker? The good thing about having an entire team back is all that experience. But it also means somebody’s getting squeezed out. One of those reserves can make their mark by crashing the glass. Texas was the worst offensive rebounding team in the Big 12 last season (31.7). It’s a huge reason why UT was 10th in the league in scoring, too. Smart will be looking to see who’s hustling and who’s not early in non-conference. That’s the easiest way to get off the bench.

14GJavon LeviSr.5-1111.48.0*
2GQuinton Johnson IIJr.6-47.93.1
0GChris FreemanSr.6-66.42.2
4FJeff OtchereSr.6-11N/AN/A
11FMarek NelsonJr.6-7N/AN/A
Coach: Lew Hill (59-73, 5th year at UT-RGV)
*-indicates assists per game. All statistics from 2019-20 season.

About the Vaqueros: Coach Lew Hill’s club posted a 20-win season two years ago and then went 14-16 last season in the WAC. That team had just three players who had any significant experience. But the Vaqueros won eight of their last 10 games, and most of the team returns. UTRGV is playing mostly in-state schools during non-conference play. Levi could likely play for anybody. The two-time WAC defensive player of the year ranked 11th nationally in steals per game (2.4) and 13th in total assists (199) last season. That’s in addition to scoring in double figures 15 times. Otchere was also a defensive player the year in the America East during thei 2018-19 campaign. Hill also believes Nelson may be one of the best wing defenders he’s ever coached.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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