Preview: Longhorns face Iowa in NYC

No. 10 Texas will face No. 25 Iowa in Madison Square Garden tonight at 6 p.m. in a battle of two 2-0 teams. Here are some things to keep an eye on.

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#10/10 Texas (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) vs. nr/25 Iowa (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project Semifinals

Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 - 6 p.m. Central

Madison Square Garden (18,200) - New York, N.Y.

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TELEVISION: The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2. John Saunders (pxp), Len Elmore (analyst) and Jeff Goodman (reporter) will call the action.

SERIES: Tied, 2-2. Last meeting: Texas 85-60 (Nov. 23, 2009; Kansas City).

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FIVE THINGS TO WATCH TONIGHT

How will Myles Turner handle the bright lights of Madison Square Garden?

If you want to make a name for yourself what better way to do it than in New York, the mecca of basketball?

Turner has played on plenty of big stages before but never at this level on this big a stage.

The talented freshman has been everything Texas thought he would be through two games. Coincidentally enough, it’s been his offensive game that has really stood out even though Turner’s defense is what’s separated him throughout his career.

Turner and those around him told HD that he was going to surprise a lot of people with an improved offensive game and he has to the tune of 12.5 points on 10-of-15 shooting (67 percent).

Despite his team-leading eight blocks, Barnes said he had to be better on defense, particularly on closing down the baseline when Texas switches into its zone.

Turner is also tied for the team lead with four turnovers.

Let’s see what type of improvements he’s made since 12.5 point, 7 rebound effort against Alcorn State.

Also, will Barnes let him play more than 20 minutes if the game is close? Turner has played 20 minutes in each of the first two.

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Will Isaiah Taylor continue to make plays from the outside?

The coaching staff stressed to Taylor the importance of becoming more of a reliable outside shooter.

So far Texas’ sophomore point guard has proven he can be with ease as he’s connected on 4-of-6 three-pointers while averaging a team-high 15 points per game.

His shot selection has been really impressive thus far too. He’s learning to take what the defense is giving him.

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Which Texas team is going to show up at the charity stripe?

Texas got off to a blistering start against North Dakota State when it hit 18-of-21 free throws, but feel off a bit against Alcorn State by making just 9-of-18.

So far the players that figure to go to the line a ton are making theirs. Cameron Ridley (3-for-3), Jonathan Holmes (4-for-5), Isaiah Taylor (4-for-4) and Myles Turner (5-of-6).

The one player to really keep an eye on is Demarcus Holland, who leads the team with 10 attempts but only six makes. He said that free throw shooting was something he stressed this off-season.

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Will the Longhorns get more out of Cameron Ridley this week?

The Texas big-man hasn’t been terrible by any means but you’d expect a bit more out of him than 7.5 points and 5 rebounds per game, right?

On top of that Ridley is tied with Turner with a team-high four turnovers.

Barnes said that Ridley was doing a good job of getting position in the paint, but wasn’t always aggressive enough in attacking the rim. Keep an eye on him to see if he’s improved in this area.

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Will Croaker find his outside touch in NYC?

I left Damarcus Croaker off my first edition of Longhorns Basketball Player Rankings, which listed 10 players, because I simply believe he hasn’t played well so far.

He’s only taken three shots – all three’s – and made only one and he’s also turned the ball over once in eight minutes per game, which is the fewest minutes of any player in the rotation.

Texas could really use his athleticism on the court but he’s going to push himself out of the rotation if he doesn’t begin to shoot with more consistency.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IOWA

Iowa likes to run. A lot. How will the Hawkeyes pushing the tempo affect which lineups Barnes chooses to leave in the game? Can Texas’ bigs keep pace?

Their best player is probably Aaron White, a 6-9 senior forward who is averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.

Iowa relies on its bench even more than the Longhorns do as it has 10 players that average at least 15 minutes per game.

The Hawkeyes won’t be afraid of Texas’ length as they have plenty of their own to work with in Adam Woodbury (7-1), Gabriel Olesani (6-10), Aaron White (6-9) and Jarrod Uthoff (6-9).

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