Longhorns play host to Green Wave

The #7 Texas Longhorns won their season opener 68-38 over Stetson Friday with a swarming defensive effort. Tuesday night at 7, the Longhorns will get a final tune-up against the Tulane Green Wave before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational. For the Longhorns, the game will be all about continuing the defensive effort and looking to get the running game going on the offensive end.

The #7 Texas Longhorns began the season as many expected on Friday with an impressive defensive effort and a sluggish offensive game in a 68-38 win over Stetson. The Longhorns held the Hatters to just 26% shooting and out rebounded the Atlantic Sun squad by nine. On the offensive end, Texas (1-0) battled through a tough first half that included eleven turnovers, Connor Atchley out with an injury for the majority of the half, and getting lulled into a game of half court basketball against a Stetson team that employed a 3-2 zone.

Tuesday night against the Tulane Green Wave (1-0), the Longhorns will look to push the tempo and use their quickness and depth advantage against a Tulane team that is more inside/out oriented.

Texas will receive added depth at the guard position Tuesday as sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay, who excels in transition, makes his debut in the burnt orange and white.

The addition of Balbay gives the Longhorns four guards that can handle the ball, push the ball and defend on the perimeter.

The Green Wave make the trip west from New Orleans coming off a 68-62 win over McNeese State on Saturday night in their home opener. Tulane is coming off of back-to-back winning seasons recording 17 wins each year.

If the Conference USA program is to continue it' trend of winning seasons, they will have to replace three of their top five players from a year ago. Lost to graduation is more than 40% of last year's scoring and rebounding along with two of their top defenders.

The player that has to step up in a big way for the Green Wave is 6-4 sophomore guard Kris Richard, who played his high school ball at Beaumont Ozen. Richard played sparingly as a freshman, but will be looked upon to bring scoring and athletic ability to the floor. In the win over McNeese, Richard delivered scoring 17 points to go with seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots.

While Richard is a key component in the 2008-09 Tulane team, they will still be more of an inside/out team that looks to pound the ball inside. The Green Wave features a 6-7, 265-pound strong-bodied forward in Robinson Louisme, who tallied 11 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots in the opener.

The Longhorns and Green Wave have met 15 times prior to Tuesday night with Texas holding a 9-6 advantage. The last meeting took place in 1973, an 85-68 win by the Longhorns.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7pm and will be televised by Fox Sports Southwest.

A Look at the Coaches

Rick Barnes won his 450th career game on Friday and enters Tuesday with a record of 450-227. At Texas, Barnes is a staggering 248-93, including 16-10 in NCAA Tournament play.

Former Maryland assistant Dave Dickerson, who is entering his fourth season, coaches Tulane. In three seasons, Dickerson has led the Green Wave to a 47-45 record including 21-25 in Conference USA play.

A Look at the Numbers

Against Stetson, the Longhorns shot 54% (27-40) overall, 53.3% (8-15) from three and 37.5% (6-16) from the free throw line.

The Green Wave converted 44.2% (23-52) from the floor, 26.7% (4-15) from the three-point line and 66.7% (18-27) from the foul line in the win over McNeese.

The Longhorns held Stetson to just 26% from the field, while McNeese converted 37.5% against Tulane.

Texas was +9 in rebounding margin against the Hatters, while the Green Wave was out rebounded 43-34 against the Cowboys.

The Longhorns committed 15 turnovers Friday. Tulane committed 17 Saturday.

The Longhorn Starters

G Justin Mason 6-2 Jr. (4.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 4.0 steals)

G A.J. Abrams 5-10 Sr. (21.0 points, 1.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists)

F Damion James 6-7 Jr. (13.0 points, 7.o rebounds, 1.0 blocks)

F Clint Chapman 6-10 So. (2.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks)

F Connor Atchley 6-11 Sr. (14.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks)

Key reserves include 6-6 sophomore Gary Johnson (6.0 points, 7.0 rebounds), 6-1 guard Varez Ward, (2.0 points, 3.0 rebounds), 6-1 sophomore Dogus Balbay, 6-10 junior Dexter Pittman (10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds), 6-8 sophomore Alexis Wangmene and 6-10 sophomore Matt Hill.

The Green Wave Starters

G Kevin Sims 5-10 Jr. (17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds)

G Kris Richard 6-4 So. (17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.0 blocks)

F Asim McQueen 6-7 Jr. (5.0 points, 6.0 rebounds)

F Daniel Puckett 6-7 Sr. (5.0 points, 4.0 rebounds)

F Robinson Louisme 6-7 Sr. (11.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks)

Key reserves include 6-5 freshman Kendall Timmons (4.0 points, 2.0 rebounds), 6-5 sophomore Johnny Mayhane (3.0 points, 2.0 assists) and 6-7 sophomore David Booker (4.0 points).

Keys to the Game

Texas must first bring the same defensive intensity they did in the opener, but with a different purpose. Tulane will look to play inside/out, so the Texas guards must apply on the ball pressure to create tough post entry passing angles and push the offense out creating longer post entry passes. The Texas big men can't allow the Green Wave post players to cross their face without a bump or contact and allow a strong player such as Louisme the opportunity to sit on his defender without having to work for post up position.

The Longhorn big men have to play physical and set the tone early. If the Tulane big men don't have to work for position and catch the ball inside of eight feet, they will have success.

Also look for Texas to run Louisme when he is on the defensive end if Tulane is playing man. The big-bodied senior will tire if he attempts to defend Atchley.

Junior guard Kevin Sims is the top three-point shooter on the Green Wave team and he must be accounted for in rotation. Tulane will look to kick the ball out of the post and Sims is their best option having shot 36% from three last year. As a team, Tulane knocked down just 32% from long range a year ago.

Kris Richard is a bouncy player, so he must be accounted for when Tulane shots go up. He is a very good offensive rebounded, so a body must be placed on the sophomore at all times.

Offensively, the Longhorns need to look to push the ball more. Friday night, they played into Stetson's hands as the Hatters employed a 3-2 zone and looked to keep the Longhorns from pushing and penetrating. When Abrams has the ball, he must push tempo more. The Longhorns have a decided advantage in athleticism and depth and simply have to take advantage.

Texas is not going to be a efficient half court team until all of the parts come together and roles are and rotation are defined, so scoring in transition and off of turnovers is going to be key the first few games and maybe longer.

Own the glass. Tulane was out rebounded 43-34 by McNeese and the Longhorns decided length advantage and depth advantage should make for a comfortable rebounding margin.

The Longhorns will have to block out Louisme with bent knees as the 265-pounder will push the Longhorn big men under the basket and snatch offensive rebounds if they aren't physical and play low.

Last, but not least is free throw shooting. The Longhorns were dismal Friday, but are better than what they showed. Justin Mason and A.J. Abrams must attack off the dribble when Tulane is playing man to man and draw contact. The transition game will offer more free throw attempts as well. Texas must take advantage.

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