A letdown looked like it might be looming for Texas basketball out of the Las Vegas Invitational as it hosted the Radford Highlanders.
This was the perfect opportunity for Texas basketball to capitalize on a big performance in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational and get a convincing win over an underrated opponent. Texas basketball found its way into both polls for the first time this season this week after upsetting the North Carolina Tar Heels and nearly upsetting the Michigan State Spartans in the Las Vegas Invitational during Thanksgiving Week.
Texas basketball wasn’t able to do anything of the sort as it hosted the 5-1 Radford Highlanders on Nov. 30. This matchup with Radford kicked off a stretch of six straight non-conference games at home at the Frank Erwin Center. Radford had already defeated a solid major-conference team this season in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Moreover, Radford still has some difficult games against the Maryland Terrapins and Clemson Tigers left on the non-conference slate. Matchups against Notre Dame, Maryland, and Clemson meant the Highlanders wouldn’t be intimated in the least by the stage it faced against the No. 17 ranked Texas Longhorns here.
Head Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart knew he would need a big performance out of his back court in this game to keep pace with the solid Radford guards. Senior shooting guard Kerwin Roach II and sophomore point guard Matt Coleman didn’t give the Horns what was needed in terms of scoring or offensive efficiency in this game.
The good news for the Horns was that the front court came up huge. Sophomore big man Jericho Sims had his best game of the regular season, scoring in double figures for the first time this year. Freshman center Jaxson Hayes was big off the bench again. Hayes dominated in the paint with three blocks.
The big issue for the Horns in this game was shooting from beyond the three-point line. Coleman, Roach II, and senior forward Dylan Osetkowski combined to shoot way under 20 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
However, Radford had a few players that gave the Texas defense trouble. Senior center Mawdo Sallah, senior forward Ed Polite Jr., and junior guard Travis Fields Jr. all scored in double figures. Sophomore point guard Carlik Jones was surprisingly stout on the glass with nine rebounds.
This was a disappointing effort through and through for the Horns. It was never able to take control of the game, even though it came in as a heavy 14-point favorite. The theme continued for the Horns in not being able to seal the deal against inferior opponents at home and out-of-conference.
A few missed three-pointers in the dying seconds of the second half doomed the Horns to a 62-59 upset against Radford. This was a bad way to follow up on the Las Vegas Invitational for the Horns as it moves to 5-2 on the young season. Radford moves to 6-1 after the upset win.