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NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas

MBB Scouting Report: Texas Longhorns

The Penultimate Hex Tex (Possibly)

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup: Baylor (14-3 / 3-1) @ Texas (12-5 / 1-3)

Time: Saturday, January 20, 2024, @ 11:00 AM CT

Place: Moody Center, Austin, Texas

Where to Watch: ESPN

Texas enters this game coming off a horrendous home loss to UCF wherein the Longhorns blew a 16-point 2nd half lead to lose just their 3rd game all-time at the Moody Center.

Baylor comes in looking to bounce back from a brutal loss to Kansas State and remain in contention near the top of the Big 12 standings.

The Bears have won 13 of the last 15 meetings with the Horns and will be looking to send Texas to the SEC after sweeping them this season. Baylor’s only losses to Texas since 2016, both took place in Austin and the Bears have not yet won a game in the Moody Center which opened last season.

Season Recap

The Longhorns’ best win this season came against (unranked) Cincinnati, by a single point, by virtue of a controversial ending which could have just as easily seen the Bearcats win that matchup. Their losses have come against UConn, Marquette, Texas Tech, UCF, and (6-11) West Virginia.

The Horns are now unranked in the latest AP Poll following last weekend’s loss to WVU. If you’re shocked that a UT team that was ranked in the preseason has fallen out of the rankings, you must be new here. KenPom has Texas as the 48th-best team in the nation and Evan Miya’s metric ranks them 38th nationally.

Horns’ Style

  • Texas plays almost exclusively man-to-man defense and doesn’t press that often.
  • They are the fastest-paced offense in the conference.
  • The majority of their shot attempts are either at-the-rim or in the mid-range.
cbbanalytics.com

Horns’ Strengths

  • Texas, on paper, is a better offensive team than it is a defensive one.
  • The Longhorns have been one of the most effective teams in the Big 12 in transition, averaging nearly 14 fastbreak points per game.
  • Texas has been one of the best shot-blocking teams in the conference, thus far, averaging over 5 blocks per game.

Horns’ Weaknesses

  • Texas has struggled this season with turnovers, giving the ball away on nearly 16% of their offensive possessions (11th in the league).
  • The Longhorns have also had a tough time on the boards, with an average rebounding margin of just 2.5 (13th in the league).
  • Texas has gotten killed at the FT line this season. They have allowed 28 more FT attempts than they’ve gotten (the 2nd worst differential among Big 12 teams).

Players to Watch

Max Abmas (Guard, No. 3, Super Senior, 6’1” 170 lbs.): 17.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 4.3 APG on 46/41/90 splits. The Oral Roberts transfer is the team’s leading scorer and go-to-guy late in games. He is a bit of a defensive liability, but his scoring ability makes him the team’s most important player. As a driver, he is most effective driving to his right. Be prepared to hear about his career scoring accomplishments (he has scored over 2,800 points in his collegiate career).

Dylan Disu (Forward, No. 1, Senior, 6’9” 220 lbs.): After missing the first 6 weeks of the season with a foot injury, Disu has averaged over 14 PPG on 50/54/84 splits in his 8 games this season and has also recently moved into the starting lineup. He is a menace defensively averaging over 1.8 steals per game over his last 5 games (top 1% of D1 players).

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tyrese Hunter (Guard, No. 4, Junior, 6’0” 180 lbs.): 12.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and 4.3 APG on 48/32/72 splits. The former Big 12 Rookie of the Year (from when has was a Cyclone), is the co-captain of this talented backcourt. Hunter has struggled with turnovers this season (he is in the bottom 3% of D1 players in turnovers per game).

Dillon Mitchell (Forward, No. 23, Sophomore, 6’8” 210 lbs.): 11.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, and 1.2 BPG) on 60/NA/60 splits. Mitchell is an athletic wing who is currently 2nd among Big 12 players in rebounding. He is a thunderous dunker who does virtually all of his damage near the rim (55% of his shot attempts come at the rim and he is in the 96th percentile of D1 players in at-the-rim FG%).

Kadin Shedrick (Center, No. 5, Senior, 6’11” 220 lbs.): 9.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.1 SPG, and 1.3 BPG on 58/NA/72 splits. The Virginia transfer big is 5th among Big 12 players in Block Rate. Shedrick left the game after aggravating his lingering back injury in the 2nd half (after being posterized by a UCF player). He did return later in the game, but his status is something to monitor for Saturday’s game.

Ithiel Horton (Guard, No. 9, Senior, 6’3” 200 lbs.): 7.9 PPG on 41/38/65 splits. The UCF transfer is the team’s sixth man and a potential sparkplug coming off the bench. Horton got hot against his former team on Wednesday, scoring a season-high 20 points on 8/14 (57%) from the field.

Brock Cunningham (Forward, No. 30, Senior, 6’5” 200 lbs.): 4.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 1.4 SPG on 37/34/93 splits. The fifth-year glue guy has become a fixture in the starting lineup despite his modest statistical production. Over his last 6 games, he is averaging just 1.5 PPG on 12/7/100 splits, indicating some significant cooling off.

Predictions

Keys for a Baylor Victory: Win the possession battle (positive rebounding and turnover margins) and keep them out of transition

Player of the Game: Jalen Bridges (Baylor): Averaging 13.3 PPG over the past 3 games and is 2nd among Big 12 players this season in Offensive Rating

Final Score: Baylor wins 72-63 (and if we win, I personally hope every single Baylor player throws up a horns down in the handshake line, Sic Em!)

Stats courtesy of cbbanalytics.com, sportsreference.com, kenpom.com, evanmiya.com, hoop-explorer.com, big12sports.com, ncaa.com.

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