Shaka Smart took on all challengers at Virginia Commonwealth. It appears he’ll do the same at Texas.
The Longhorns released a nonconference basketball schedule Monday that’s chock-full of recognizable teams. The schedule was mostly assembled by the previous coaching staff, but Smart hasn’t scuttled any contracts.
Texas will open in the Far East against Washington in Shanghai, China, then face some strong teams in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament before tangling with North Carolina, Stanford and Connecticut in December.
In a news release, Smart said the Horns were excited about playing a challenging nonconference schedule.
“Not only will it give our team the chance to compete against some of college basketball’s best programs, it will also prepare us for the challenges of Big 12 play,” Smart said.
The Horns will open the season against the Huskies at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. It will be the first time Texas has left the United States for a game since the Puerto Rico Shootout in 1999. The game is scheduled for 11 a.m. locally on Nov. 14, but because of time zone differences, it will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on Nov. 13 in Austin.
Smart’s home debut will come afterward in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Texas is scheduled to face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Erwin Center on Nov. 21 and then leave for games in the Bahamas.
The complete Battle 4 Atlantis bracket has not been announced.
Syracuse, Michigan, Gonzaga, Charlotte and Texas A&M are among the other participants listed on the tournament’s web site.
The Horns return home in December to play five straight games at the Erwin Center, facing UT-Arlington (Dec. 1), Samford (Dec. 4), UT-San Antonio (Dec. 8), North Carolina (Dec. 12) and Appalachian State (Dec. 15).
The matchup against the Tar Heels is the glamour date among those five. Texas holds a 6-3 record in the series. The Horns won the last game in Chapel Hill, knocking off the 14th-ranked Tar Heels 86-83.
Texas will travel to face Stanford on Dec. 19 in a return match from last season. Then the Horns will be host to UConn on Dec. 29. UT won in Storrs, Conn., last season on a late 3-pointer by senior Jon Holmes.
The Big 12 portion of Texas’ schedule has not been released, but conference games generally start in early January. The only remaining nonconference game has been scheduled for Jan. 30, when Texas will welcome Vanderbilt as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
For those looking for a game against VCU, Smart said previously that Texas will likely honor the mandated home-and-home agreement in his third or fourth year. That time frame fits with how game contracts have been structured when previous coaches left Richmond.
Most tip times have not been determined for the nonconference games, but every one is expected to be televised.
“We want UT students, alumni and all those that support our team to feel a close connection to our program and to help us make the Erwin Center one of the toughest venues for visiting teams in all of college basketball,” Smart said.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957.