Texas coach Shaka Smart will go for career victory No. 200 on Tuesday against the team he gained most of those wins with. The Longhorns travel to VCU - where Smart went 163-56 in six seasons and advanced to the 2011 Final Four.
“It’ll be different to be on the opposing side, and to be the one that fans are probably giving a hard time to,” Smart told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last week. “I always told our guys (when i was at VCU): Don’t take for granted that we get to play in front of a sellout crowd, the fact that we have fans that are so unbelievably supportive.” Smart was disappointed with his Longhorns their last time out and will be looking for more consistency and better shooting. The Longhorns rank last in the Big 12 in both free-throw shooting (62 percent) and 3-point shooting (27.2 percent). The Rams, who have four starters averaging double figures, are 5-7 all-time against Big 12 teams.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT TEXAS (5-2): Sophomore Andrew Jones continues to pace Texas with 14.7 points while freshman point guard Matt Coleman - a Virginia native - has 28 assists and five turnovers to go with an 8.3 scoring average. Texas needs big production out of junior Dylan Osetkowski (13.6 points, 8.0 rebounds) and freshman Mohamed Bamba (10.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 4.0 blocks) to offset its poor perimeter shooting. The Longhorns have four starters shooting at or below 28 percent from the 3-point line and average 42.3 points per game in the paint.
ABOUT VCU (5-3): Senior forward Justin Tillman - who started his career 0-of-3 from the 3-point line before hitting 10-of-19 this season - leads the balanced Rams with 15.5 points and 7.4 rebounds. Sophomore guard De‘Riante Jenkins (14.3 points) has emerged as a solid scorer and has been encouraged to shoot more 3s (19-of-40). Senior point guard Jonathan Williams adds 12.4 points while senior post Khris Lane contributes 10.6 points on 61.1 percent shooting for the Rams, who have won back-to-back games.
1. VCU won its previous two games against former coaches, beating Jeff Capel and Oklahoma in 2009 and Anthony Grant and Alabama in 2012. Smart led VCU to both of those victories.
2. Coleman leads the Longhorns with 11 steals while Texas is forcing 16.4 turnovers per game.
3. VCU first-year coach Mike Rhoades was an assistant under Smart from 2009-14 before leading Rice for three years.
PREDICTION: Texas 78, VCU 70