Navy (0-0) at Texas (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 8th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frank Erwin Center (16,734) -- Austin, Texas. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Navy 0-0, Texas 0-0. Away Record: Navy 0-0, Texas 0-0. Neutral Record: Navy 0-0, Texas 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Texas 0-0. Series Record: Texas leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Texas Longhorns open up their 2010-11 basketball season as a regional host of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, welcoming the Navy Midshipmen to Austin for a matchup at the Erwin Center.
Rick Barnes' Longhorns opened last season with 17 straight wins, but faltered down the stretch and made an early exit from the NCAA Tournament. Still, Texas was able to pick up its 12th straight invite to the Big Dance and Barnes and company hope for number 13 in 2010-11.
The Midshipmen went just 13-17 overall last year and finished with a 7-7 mark in Patriot League play. Billy Lange's squad returns four starters from that unit and a veteran team could push Navy towards a winning record this season.
This marks just the second time these two teams have met. The first came back during the 2000-01 campaign, a 79-65 victory for Texas in Austin.
Despite having four remaining starters back from a year ago, there is a glaring void with the loss of guard Chris Harris and his 21.1 ppg. Harris hit 88 three-point baskets a year ago as Navy was ranked first in the Patriot League and 21st nationally with 8.2 treys per game. Guard play will once again be the focus of the group and this time around, junior Jordan Sugars and senior O.J. Avworo should garner the attention. Sugars was second on the team in scoring a year ago with 15.8 ppg, the only other double-digit scorer for Navy, as he converted 78 of his own three-point attempts. He was also able to pull down eight rebounds per game, despite standing just 6-4. Avworo is a solid complement, as he added 8.1 ppg, while serving as the team's primary distributor (5.8 apg).
Texas was on top of the polls at one point last year, but came apart in the second half, closing out with a 7-10 record and getting bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. At first glance, the losses are numerous, with the departure of players like Damion James (18.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg), Dexter Pittman (10.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Avery Bradley (11.6 ppg), but Texas will remain competitive with a roster still full of plenty of playmakers. Highly regarded freshman Cory Joseph, defensive wizard Dogus Balbay (3.9 apg) and J'Covan Brown (9.6 ppg) help form a versatile backcourt that has plenty of other options including Jordan Hamilton (10.0 ppg). Gary Johnson (9.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and highly regarded freshman Tristan Thompson will provide the necessary balance in the frontcourt. A McDonald's All-American, the 6-9 Thompson has loads of raw talent, but will need to buckle down and buy into Barnes' team- philosophy to maximize his potential in his first season in Austin, as an immediate impact player.
Navy lacks the athletes that Texas is going to put on the floor in this one, so look for the Longhorns to get out to a fast start and never look back.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas 81, Navy 53
11/08 10:38:54 ET