Longhorns mired in extended slump
After starting the season ranked No. 21 in the country, Texas has lost three in a row. Will Shaka Smart’s troops be able to reverse course against Alabama?
The two schools square off tonight, with a 9:30 p.m. ET tip at the Frank Erwin Center. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Longhorns odds of -165 to win for the first time since Nov. 17. Conversely, the Crimson Tide enter the Lone Star State as a +145 underdog.
With the exception of sophomore wing sensation Tevin Mack, UT (3-3) continues to struggle in terms of generating offense. The perennial Big 12 contender is shooting just 26 percent from beyond the arc. Getting vanquished by the likes of Northwestern, Colorado and UT Arlington tends to torpedo the old RPI, too.
Such a skid magnifies the importance of protecting the home court vs. Avery Johnson’s crew. Most recently, the Tide (4-2) registered a 76-46 triumph over Charleston Southern. Freshman Braxton Key leads the team in scoring, thanks in large part to his remarkable efficiency. Yet Alabama draws much of its strength from a bench that averages 33 points per contest.
At the end of the day, Texas flat-out needs this victory more. The raucous atmosphere in Austin should help Smart’s troops bounce back emphatically, as well. If not, the Horns could face a seriously arduous league schedule.
FRIDAY NCAA FREE PICK: TEXAS -3.5