After a one year absence, 10 seed Texas is set to return to the NCAA tournament on Friday against 7 seed Nevada. This will be the Longhorn’s second tournament appearance under third year head coach Shaka Smart, with the first appearance in 2016 ending with a 1st round exit to Northern Iowa on a half-court shot at the buzzer. Nevada returns to the tournament for the second consecutive season, bowing out in the first round last year to Iowa State, 84-73.
On the court, the Wolf Pack are led by the Caleb and Cody Martin. The twins have combined to average 32.7 PPG and 11.6 RPG. Cody is also the team leader in assists at 4.2 per game. There is not much to dislike about Nevada offensively. They shoot well from the field (46.8%), shoot well from 3 (39.8%) and rarely turn the ball over (9.9 turnovers per game). Despite the positives on the offensive end, the Wolf Pack will have several factors working against them heading into the first round match-up. Starting point guard Lindsey Drew has been sidelined for a month with an achilles injury, and his absence has left Nevada short handed. The Wolf Pack will likely only play 7 players against the Longhorns, and Nevada also loves to foul. The inside presence of Jericho Sims and Mo Bamba could cause trouble if Wolf Pack players start finding themselves in foul trouble.
The Longhorns are coming off a 73-69 loss to Texas Tech in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. Bamba returned to action against the Red Raiders after missing the previous 2 games with a toe injury. The star freshman claims to be 100% healthy heading into the NCAA tournament, and it would be a welcome site for Shaka Smart and company to have their star player back on the floor at full health.
With Eric Davis still out due to an ongoing NCAA investigation, Smart will continue to lean on rising guard Jacob Young, who has elevated his play the past few games. Young poured in a career high 29 points against Texas Tech, and played 32 minutes. The Houston native has given the Longhorns a much needed shooting boast from beyond the arc.
Texas and Nevada is set to tip at 3:30 CST on TBS. The winner for face the winner of 2 seed Cincinnati against 15 seed Georgia State. Follow along at HornSports.com for live updates.