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Eight takeaways from the Texas Longhorns basketball exhibition game

Gerry Hamilton11/02/21
Article written by:On3 imageGerry Hamilton

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The first look at the Texas Longhorns basketball team under Chris Beard is in the rearview mirror following a 96-33 win over Texas Lutheran. 

The Longhorns will begin the regular season November 9 playing host to Houston Baptist. The second game of the season will be a Top 5 matchup vs. No. 1 Gonzaga in Spokane. 

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Inside Texas was courtside last night for the win over Division III Texas Lutheran. 

Texas basketball is in good hands with Chris Beard

This is most important when watching and covering the Longhorns. The program is in good hands. And that has meaning for the long haul, and not just looking at this season. 

Texas is fundamentally light years ahead of the prior staff. The roster has been built with more completion. The players have fully bought in. 

Best free throw shooting team in 20+ seasons

The Texas Longhorns basketball program hasn’t had a team shoot 75% from the free throw line in my years of coverage. This team has the chance to convert in that 75-77% range. 

It’s not the 10-10 last night that has me saying that. 

The Texas rotation will include seven players that converted 73.5% or better last season. The four guards for the Longhorns combined to average over 80% a season ago. 

Andrew Jones 83.1%

Courtney Ramey 83.1%

Devin Askew 80.6%

Marcus Carr 79.9%

Tre Mitchell 74.3%

Dylan Disu 73.6%

The lone big minute player that needs to improve at the line this season is Christian Bishop. Bishop converted 56.2% last season at Creighton. 

The Longhorns best free throw shooting team since 2002-03 was the 2011-12 team at 73.1%. Only four teams in that 19 year span shot 72% or better.

A sight for extremely sore eyes

The Longhorns had ball movement and spacing last night that could have made TimBeam and myself shed a tear. I got a few texts saying Texas was passing up too many shots last night. From what I gathered, that was part of a plan against an overmatched opponent. These guys need to move, cut and play together. 

When watching the Longhorns this season, the ability of Tre Mitchell and Dylan Disu to shoot the three will be big. Texas has the opportunity to create ideal spacing with bigs that can knock down 35-36% from three. 

Bigs with skill are another sight for sore eyes

Texas has two power forwards that have a high-end skill level offensively. Tre Mitchell is the best in the program. That was on display last night. His ability and feel for playing over either shoulder is huge for this team. He plays over his right shoulder for a righty as well as one will see at this level. 

Dylan Disu has some of that skill too, but not to the level of Mitchell. 

Adding to that skill is the ability to knock down the three. Bigs that can stretch the floor are huge in college basketball. Opens up the ball screen game when schemed well. And it provides ideal spacing. 

Timmy Allen with the ball 

Timmy Allen is a damn good all-around player. When he grabs a rebound, his ability to quickly push with the ball is a welcomed addition to the program. That adds to the versatility of the Longhorns. It allows for guards to not have to always come back to the ball, but work up the court on the wings. 

The question is how much small ball can Texas play this season. While Dylan Disu works his way back, the rotation will have to be that. 

Aspects that will be interesting to follow this season

Texas demolished an overmatched opponent, as they should. Even in that setting, there are areas of improvement team that will be needed when the competition goes up several notches.

Tre Mitchell is terrific offensively. Defensively, he’s a work in progress. His strength will not be laterally defending a big with skill on the perimeter. It will be interesting to see if he plays a step away with a high hand when competition gets tougher. He’s not going to be able to pressure the big on the perimeter effectively. 

The Texas guards are strong and have good size overall. If there is one thing the guards don’t have it is a guard that can disrupt with quickness. Something to watch when the opponents get much better. 

Knocking down the three against quality competition

This will be huge for this Texas team. The offensive parts are very good. The best Texas has put on the court in a while. With that said, the ability to knock down the three against quality opponents will be key. 

The last team that Texas had that converted 38% from three was the 2007-08 Elite Eight squad. The 2005-06 team that advanced to the Elite Eight also converted 38%. 

The 2003-04 Sweet 16 team hit on 36.7% from three. 

The target number for Texas this season is that magic 37-38%. Should the Longhorns convert at that clip, this season should go very well. A team that knocks down 37% from three and 75% from the foul line won’t have issues scoring the ball when talent is neutralized. 

Team comparison from a good set of eyes

A pair of eyes that has seen a lot of Texas teams up close told IT last night prior to tipoff that this team reminds him of the 2003-04 team, with more skilled bigs. 

That Texas team was the year after the Final Four run. T.J. Ford was the dynamic player that left for the NBA Draft. The 2003-04 team didn’t have that dynamic player, but had a bunch of really good players with depth. The team was a total buy in team, especially defensively. 

This team is drawing comparisons for that reason. But the person IT spoke with added that this years team has more skilled bigs and better free throw shooting.