South Alabama (1-0) at Texas (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 12, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: Longhorn Network. Home Record: USA 1-0, Texas 1-0. Away Record: USA 0-0, Texas 0-0. Neutral Record: USA 0-0, Texas 0-0. Conference Record: USA 0-0, Texas 0-0. Series Record: Texas leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Texas Longhorns' season-opening four-game homestand will continue on Tuesday night, as they welcome the South Alabama Jaguars to the Frank Erwin Center.
South Alabama pieced together a strong campaign in 2012-13 (17-13, 14-6 Sun Belt), and it is expected to once again be a favorite in the Sun Belt Conference this time around under first-year head coach Matthew Graves, who had previously spent more than a decade as an assistant at Butler. The Jaguars' season got of to a great start last Friday night as they dismissed Detroit at home, 74-58.
While Texas opened its season with a 76-73 home win over a very good Mercer team, it appears to be facing an uphill battle as it looks ahead to a daunting Big 12 Conference slate. The Longhorns went just 16-18 overall in 2012-13, and they are playing with a depleted roster this season after losing their top four scorers.
Texas holds a 3-1 advantage in the all-time series with South Alabama, although the teams haven't met since 1987.
The Jaguars hit the ground running in their opener, beginning with a 12-5 run in the game's first four minutes on the way to an easy 16-point victory. They actually struggled from the field, shooting just 36.4 percent, but they made up for it by playing outstanding defense, holding Detroit to only 28.9 percent from the floor. Mychal Ammons tallied a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Augustine Rubit narrowly missed one with nine points and 12 boards. Antonie Allen paced the scoring effort with 17 points, and Aakim Saintil came off the bench to net 12 points, but he did so on just 3-of-11 shooting. South Alabama will be led by Rubit this season, who was named the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Player of the Year after averaging 19.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game a season ago. Ammons (10.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Allen (9.1 ppg) also return to the veteran squad.
With Texas losing Myck Kabongo (14.6 ppg, 5.5 apg), Sheldon McClellan (13.4 ppg), Julien Lewis (11.2 ppg) and Ioannis Papapetrou (8.3 ppg) following last season, it was anybody's guess who would step up as the go-to option at the start of this campaign. In the opener, that turned out to be Isaiah Taylor, a freshman guard who netted 17 points on 4-of-10 from the floor and 9-of-14 from the foul line in his debut. Javan Felix, one of the few holdovers from 2012-13, struggled mightily with his field goal attempts (4-of-14), but he still finished with 11 points and nine assists. Jonathan Holmes added 11 points, while Cameron Ridley was a disruptive force in the paint with eight points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. In all, the 'Horns outshot Mercer from the field, 44.1 percent to 39.7 percent.
It was a promising start for a Texas squad that came into the season with several questions, and while the Longhorns will likely have their hands full with a talented South Alabama frontcourt, they appear to have the advantage out on the perimeter, and that should be enough to lift them to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas 71, South Alabama 68
11/12 10:34:39 ET