Longhorns to host Appalachian State

The #8 Texas Longhorns will be back on the court January 2 for the first time since winning at Wisconsin 74-69 December 23. At 10-2, Texas has two games remaining before Big 12 play begins. Appalachian State travels to Austin with a 5-4 record coming off of a blowout win on December 30.

The # 8 Texas Longhorns return from a nine-day break for the holidays on January 2 playing host to Appalachian State. The Mountaineers head to Austin with a 5-4 record coming off of a 112-47 win over Milligan December 30.

In the win, Appalachian State knocked down a season high 15 three-pointers.

The Mountaineers, under the direction of head coach Houston Fancher, have losses at UNC-Wilmington (108-101 OT), at Niagra (95-80), East Tennessee State (89-70) and Kentucky (93-69) on the season.

The Longhorns come in off of a third resume stamping win beating Wisconsin in Madison 74-69. In the victory, sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay turned in his best performance as a Longhorn with several key plays down the stretch. Balbay, Damion James and Gary Johnson all played key roles in the much needed road victory.

The meeting Friday night, which will tip-off at 8pm and be televised on ESPNU, will be the first between the two programs.

A Look at the Numbers

Texas shoots 45.1% overall, 36.6% from the three-point line and 64.0% from the foul line.

Appalachian State converts 44.2% from the floor, 35.9% from three and 72.5% from the free throw line.

Texas holds a +5.0 rebound margin and turns the ball over 13.1 times per game, while the Mountaineers check in at +10.5 on the boards and 18.7 turnovers per game.

The Longhorn Starters

G Justin Mason 6-2 Jr. (7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists)

G A.J. Abrams 5-10 Sr. (19.8 points, 2.4 rebounds)

F Damion James 6-7 Jr. (14.4 points, 8.6 rebounds)

F Connor Atchley 6-11 Sr. (6.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks)

C Dexter Pittman 6-10 Jr. (8.0 points and 4.1 rebounds)

Key reserves include 6-7 sophomore Gary Johnson (10.0 points and 6.3 rebounds), 6-2 freshman Varez Ward (3.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists), 6-1 sophomore Dogus Balbay (1.6 assists) and 6-10 sophomore Clint Chapman (2.1 points, 2.3 rebounds).

The Mountaineer Starters

G Ryan Abraham 5-10 Jr. (11.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists)

G Kellen Brand 6-1 Jr. (12.4 points and 2.6 rebounds)

G Eduardo Bermudez 6-3 Sr. (10.2 points and 4.8 rebounds)

F Josh Hunter 6-6 Jr. (9.6 points and 8.2 rebounds)

C Isaac Butts 6-10 So. (10.6 points and 10.8 rebounds)

Key reserves include 6-1 sophomore Donald Sims (11.7 points and 1.9 assists), 6-7 freshman Andre Williamson (4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds) and 6-9 junior Tyler Webb (3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds)

Keys to the Game

Coming off of the long layoff and playing a lesser opponent, bringing energy and focus to the game is the number one key. Appalachian State will play fast and will turn the ball over. If Texas brings the defensive energy early, there should be transition opportunities off of turnovers.

While the Mountaineers have a huge rebounding margin, the level of competition they have played is far less than Texas. Fundamental block outs by the Texas guards will be key as the three-pointers will be flying and the long rebounds will be plentiful. Limiting second chance scoring opportunities on long rebounds is key for the Longhorns.

The matchup between Dexter Pittman and Isaac Butts should be one the fans of power basketball love. Both players weigh more than 280 pounds and welcome physical play. This is a good matchup for Pittman as Butts won't pull him away from the basket and that is when Pittman has had the majority of his success this season.

The Longhorn defenders must close out under control. The Mountaineers have attempted 206 three-pointers in nine games and will put up many long-range jumpers. Texas simply can't give up second chance scoring opportunities because of fly by's instead of closing out under control, putting a hand in the shooters face and then putting a body on the shooter after the release.

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