Texas returns to the Frank Erwin Center tonight for the first time since November 29th. The Longhorns will welcome the Michigan Wolverines and will be looking to build off last week’s road win over VCU. Texas will be without guard Andrew Jones, who is nursing a right wrist fracture. In his weekly media availability, Shaka Smart said he expects Jones to miss “at least the next few games we have coming up before Christmas.” Without Jones, who is the team’s’ leading scorer, Texas will lean heavily on Eric Davis Jr., Jacob Young and freshman Jase Febres.
Michigan will come to Austin with a 8-3 record. The Wolverines have suffered losses to North Carolina (86-71) and Ohio State (71-62), while also losing their opening game of the Maui Invitational to LSU (77-75). During their final game in Hawaii, the Wolverines got a 68-60 win over VCU and most recently got a 78-69 overtime win over UCLA. Junior Moritz Wagner will be the player to watch for the Wolverines. Standing at 6’11, Wagner leads Michigan in PPG (16.1) and rebounds (8.0). Wagner has the ability to shoot the ball from the outside and play close to the basket. Wagner will look to get to the best of Texas freshman Mo Bamba. Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews will man the point and will be joined by Muhammad-Ali Abdur- Rahkman in the backcourt. An interesting thing to watch will be how the Wolverines perform at the free throw line. For the season, Michigan is only shooting 62% from the charity stripe as a team, with Matthews leading the team in attempts and shooting a dismal 47%.
With Andrew Jones missing from the court, Texas will need improved guard play. Kerwin Roach will be relied heavily upon when the Longhorns are on offense. Smart said he is satisfied with Roach’s offensive game up to this point in the season, but wants to continue to see his junior guard continue improve his shooting. “We want him to get more consistent and better shooting the ball from the perimeter, but you are talking about a guy who ranks in the Top 20 player in the country with his two point percentage,” Smart said. On the defensive end, Smart emphasized the fact that the Longhorns will have to do a good job containing Charles Matthews. “Matthews is a terrific player and he is a guy that we’re going to need to do a good job of keeping out of the lane.”
Lately, playing Michigan has not been kind to Texas. The Wolverines knocked the Longhorns out of the NCAA tournament in 2014, before defeating Texas in the Bahamas in 2015 and getting a close win in Ann Arbor last season.
The game will tip off at 8 PM CST and will be broadcast on ESPN2.