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Men’s preview: No. 17 Texas vs. No. 12 Villanova

Longhorns return home after winning Maui Invitational championship to face 12th-ranked Wildcats at Erwin Center

Texas guard Matt Coleman III drains a jumper during the Longhorns' game versus Indiana in the Maui Invitational tournament Tuesday. The Longhorns welcome Villanova Sunday to the Erwin Center.

No. 17 Texas (4-0) vs. No. 12 Villanova (3-1)

When: Noon Sunday

Where: Erwin Center (capacity 3,100 during pandemic)

TV/radio: ESPN/104.9 The Horn 

About the series: Texas leads the all-time series 2-1. The two teams have not met since the Longhorns won 67-58 on Dec. 2, 2008, in New York as part of the Jimmy V Classic.

About the Longhorns: If there’s another player in college basketball that’s made a better one year jump than Kai Jones, please forward his name. Jones scored in double figures only twice last season. In four games as a sophomore, he’s averaging 10.8 points and is 16-for-17 shooting. The only miss was a botched alley-oop dunk attempt. His 12 points and eight rebounds against North Carolina was critical in the Maui championship game. UT’s other critical role player this season is Brock Cunningham, who is 4-for-10 from 3-point range and averages five rebounds per game. Texas is also coming up on an impressive milestone. The Horns have hit at least one 3-pointer in 997 consecutive games. After Villanova, Texas has only one non-conference game left (Wednesday vs. Texas State) before starting Big 12 play at Baylor next Sunday.

About the Wildcats: Jay Wright, one of the coaches first targeted when Rick Barnes was fired from Texas, is now in his 20th season at Villanova. So far this season, Villanova has beaten Boston College and No. 18 Arizona State, lost to Virginia Tech and beat Hartford. G Collin Gillespie and F Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are both on the Wooden Award watch list, same as Texas’ Greg Brown. Both Wildcats are averaging 15 points per game here in the early go. Wright got more minutes for some of his reserves in the win over Hartford. Redshirt freshman Eric Dixon had 14 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. Dixon and fellow reserves Cole Swider, and Brandon Slater carried most of the workload, racking up 40 points combined. Texas will be far and away Villanova’s toughest test yet. 

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