Young Longhorns Pose Matchup Problems

AUSTIN, Texas — The perplexed look on Stan Heath's face said enough. Merely thinking about the challenge of stopping Texas freshman Kevin Durant during Arkansas' game at 8 tonight in Austin bewildered the Hogs' fifth-year coach.

This likely is because no one skill defines Durant, who ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale dubbed, "as talented a freshman as I've seen in quite a while." Durant can dribble. He can pass. He can dunk. He can rebound. He can shoot — inside and out. He can defend. He can simply madden his opponents. And, oh yeah, he's 6-foot-9. "Kevin Durant is so good," Heath said. "Watching him play and how easy he makes it look, we don't have a true matchup for him. We'll have to try different things. We all have to be cognizant of where he is." Deciphering a way to limit Durant's scoring is one of a few arduous tasks the Razorbacks (8-2) face as they try to put a disheartening loss Saturday to Texas Tech behind them. Other chores exist, such as quieting the Texas crowd in the Frank Erwin Special Events Center, slowing the backcourt of A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin and taking care of the basketball. But the discussion must start with Durant, who most certainly would've entered the NBA Draft if the professional league hadn't implemented an age requirement. The 225-pounder's game is NBA ready. Right now. With his height and athletic ability, he sports a rare mix of talents that makes guarding him a humbling proposition. "He's real impressive," Arkansas' Sonny Weems said. "We're looking forward to seeing what we can do against him. We're not going to be scared of him, but we know what he's capable of." Durant has superior quickness on Arkansas' Steven Hill, Darian Townes and Charles Thomas. He has three inches on Weems, and Heath probably will need Weems on one of Texas' shifty guards. Expect the Razorbacks to rotate any of the those four — or maybe even Vincent Hunter, Cyrus McGowan or Michael Washington — on Durant. Longhorns coach Rick Barnes has marveled at Durant's quick maturation and all-around success. Durant ranks 25th in the nation in scoring (20.4 per game), shoots 40 percent from 3-point range and leads the Longhorns (7-2) in blocked shots. "He has been (more than we expected)," Barnes said. "He does things that you'd never know about until you get around someone and around him on a day-to-day basis." As for the home crowd, the Hogs realize that an early start like they had Saturday would result in disaster. Then, Texas Tech took an 18-3 advantage after just eight minutes. A quick 15-point lead for Texas tonight undoubtedly would shake the Razorbacks' confidence. It also would create a sense of panic for a team that already has exhibited some stage fright in front of big crowds. All that said, the Longhorns are still quite capable of getting rattled themselves. Seven freshmen have combined for 70.8 percent of Texas' scoring, 74.2 percent of its rebounds and 75.4 percent of its assists. Unfortunately for Arkansas, those young players haven't exhibited too much immaturity yet. "Texas is not a one-man team," Heath said. "In addition to Durant, we need to pay attention to A.J. Abrams, D.J. Augustin and others. They all present a different matchup." TODAY'S TICKET ARKANSAS AT TEXAS WHEN: 8 p.m. WHERE: Frank Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, Texas TV: ESPN2 (Ch. 24) RADIO: KXIO-FM 106.9; KEZA-FM 107.9; KKEG-FM 92.1; KFPW-AM 1230; KQBK-FM 104.7; KHGG-AM 1580; KHGG-FM 103.1; KDYN-AM 1540; KDYN-FM 96.7; KTTG-FM 96.3 RECORDS: Arkansas 8-2, Texas 7-2 HEAD COACHES: Arkansas, Stan Heath (fifth season); Texas, Rick Barnes (ninth season) STARTING LINEUPS ARKANSAS (8-2) G Gary Ervin 6-0 Jr. 9.2 G Patrick Beverley 6-1 Fr. 12.7 C Darian Townes 6-10 Jr. 8.4 F Sonny Weems 6-6 Jr. 10.8 F Charles Thomas 6-8 Jr. 11.9 TEXAS (7-2) G A.J. Abrams 5-10 So. 16.9 G D.J. Augustin 5-11 Fr. 12.7 G Justin Mason 6-2 Fr. 9.7 F Damion James 6-7 Fr. 8.1 F Kevin Durant 6-9 Fr. 20.4

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