Texas faces it first true test of the season when it battles Butler as part of the Phil Knight Invitational on Thursday in Portland, Ore. The Longhorns opened the new campaign with straightforward wins against Northwestern State (105-59), New Hampshire (78-60) and Lipscomb (80-57) and hope to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2014-15 by avenging a 56-48 setback to the Bulldogs in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
Texas has been winning with defense as it’s held its opponents to 60 points or fewer in every game while limiting them to 32.8 percent shooting from the field. Butler bounced back from its first loss of the season against Maryland (79-65) with an 82-65 win over Furman on Saturday. The Bulldogs rode some hot shooting to their 38th consecutive non-conference home win, which is the fourth-longest active streak in the nation, and hope to continue their success in early-season/holiday tournaments by winning their fifth in the last 10 years. “We’re just trying to grow and get better every day,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan told reporters. “We’ve got a competitive group and we’re learning how to play better together now that we’re into a real college season.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT TEXAS (3-0): Kerwin Roach led the way with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and freshman forward Mo Bamba, who missed the prior game with a concussion, added 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win against Lipscomb to record his first collegiate double-double. Matt Coleman added 10 points as the Longhorns forced 17 turnovers and held the Bisons to 29.3 percent shooting from the floor. “One thing we focused on going into this game was not to overlook their ability to play,” Bamba told reporters. “When we’re on the road, we need to kick it up a notch and lock in what we did defensively.”
ABOUT BUTLER (3-1): Tyler Wideman scored 17 of his team-high 19 points in the first half and pulled down seven rebounds in the win over Furman, which came on his 22nd birthday. Kamar Baldwin filled up the stat sheet as he added 18 points, four boards and three steals while Sean McDermott drilled five 3-pointers en route to 17 points against the Paladins. Paul Jorgensen added 16 points in a reserve role while leading scorer Kelan Martin, who averaged 20 points in the Bulldogs’ previous two wins, was limited to a season-low eight on 2-of-9 shooting from the floor.
1. Bamba is averaging 4.5 blocked shots per game.
2. Butler is 3-0 when scoring 80 or more points under Jordan.
3. The Bulldogs are ranked 343rd nationally in 3-point defense (46.3).
PREDICTION: Texas 75, Butler 67