Texas Faces Big Test Against BYU

Texas looks to stay undefeated tonight as they face BYU in Kansas City. (Photo Credit: Brendan Maloney, USA Today)
Texas looks to stay undefeated tonight as they face BYU in Kansas City. (Photo Credit: Brendan Maloney, USA Today)

Its’ difficult to call tonight’s game the Longhorns’ first real test, especially after a bumpy start that saw Texas trail for the majority of their first two games. A win is a win, but when facing teams that belong to mid-major conferences, the Longhorns are expected to win big. Nonetheless, tonight’s game begins a tough stretch for the Longhorns that ends with a visit from the No.1-ranked Michigan State Spartans Dec. 18.

Coming off a two-point loss to No. 21 Iowa State five days ago, BYU poses a legitimate threat to UT’s unblemished 4-0 record.

BYU’s season revolves around unseating No. 11 Gonzaga as the West Coast Conference Champions, yet that didn’t stop the Cougars from scheduling tough out-of-conference competition before entering their in-conference round robin.

The high-scoring Cougars (currently averaging over 94 points per game) already defeated Stanford with an NBA-like 112-103 final score, and led the No. 21 Iowa State Cyclones for 26 minutes before falling 90-88. BYU still has to play UMass, Oregon and Utah before entering conference play.

The Cougars boast a 4-1 record and are making a name for themselves as a high-octane, fast-paced team that will beat you with the sheer amount of shots they put up a game. It’s no surprise that the Cougars rank No. 1 in the nation in pace.

BYU also possesses one of the finest big men in the game with Eric Mika, who stands at 6-10 and recently ranked fifth on ESPN’s Freshman Tracker.

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“I was really impressed with him (Mika)," Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg said. "If there is another freshman big man with as polished of an offensive game, I’d love to see him.”

How does Texas slow down BYU’s high-speed offense? Unfortunately, there’s no magic answer for slowing down such an offense other than the typical bag of tricks. The Longhorns will forfeit offensive rebounds to get back on defense, and they will likely try to keep pace by increasing their tempo, as well.

Luckily the Horns have shown improvement on both ends of the floor in their past couple of games, all in an attempt to show their early struggles were a fluke. Texas will also look to continue spreading the floor with Jonathan Holmes at power forward. Holmes is averaging 50 percent behind the three-point line, giving space inside for the Horns’ three-guard lineup to penetrate.

If the Longhorns manage to defeat the Cougars, who have garnered some buzz around the NCAA, the Longhorns should succeed in creating a little buzz for themselves.


Brian Kendall

Part-time journalist turned full-time blogger, Brian is an online staff writer at Horns Illustrated and serves as senior staff writer for digital marketing agency Speak Social. Brian currently resides in Austin and you can read his blog at the following address: briankendall.wordpress.com