Longhorns face must win game against Oregon

Barnes' team looks to bounce back (AP Photo)

The #6 Texas Longhorns face a quick turnaround after an 81-80 hard fought loss to Notre Dame Tuesday night. While it's just the fifth game of the season for Texas, Wednesday becomes a must win game after the loss on Tuesday with future NCAA Tournament seeding in play.

The Texas Longhorns face their first must win game of the season on Wednesday against an Oregon team that was soundly beaten 98-69 at the hands of #1 North Carolina Tuesday night in Maui. With every game counting towards future NCAA Tournament seeding and many tough games left to be played in the non-conference, the Longhorns will take the court Wednesday at 3:30pm facing a must win game.

Michael Dunigan leads the youthful Ducks (3-2). Dunigan, who is averaging 15.0 points and 8.2 rebounds, is already turning heads with his relentless and physical style of play. In Tuesday's loss to North Carolina, the broad shouldered freshman tallied 15 points and seven rebounds fighting and clawing for each point and carom.

Junior diminutive sharpshooter Tajuan Porter and undersized forward Joevan Catron combine with Dunigan to give the Ducks three feisty players that have the ability to impact winning in different ways.

Porter is one of the top three-point shooters in the country whether it's off the bounce or on the catch. At 5-6, Porter uses his quickness and ability to hide behind ball screens to get off his quick release jumper.

Catron is a skilled all-around player for Oregon leading the team in rebounding and assists from his forward position.

In the Duck's first five games of the season, Head Coach Ernie Kent has played ten players more than ten minutes per game always looking to quicken the pace and create turnovers. While the Ducks have succeeded in creating turnovers, they are turning the ball over more than 15 times per game as well offsetting the forced turnovers on the defensive end.

For the Longhorns, the name of the game on Wednesday will be experience versus a young Oregon team. The Longhorns have the quick turnaround experience as well as knowing how to take care of business in a crucial game.

If the Longhorns are to take home third place in the Maui Invitational, the play of Damion James must improve. The junior forward has committed 14 turnovers in four games with the majority being unforced. The unforced turnovers have cost the Longhorns 10 to 12 points in the last two games and the turnovers Tuesday night were crucial playing against a very good offensive team in Notre Dame.

Along with the needed improvement by James, Texas has to work to get Connor Atchley more involved in the half court. While Atchley is the definition of team player, the Texas guards are too slow to recognize when Atchley is open on the pick and float and Atchley has to want the ball and look to post up two or three more times per game.

The Longhorns and Ducks tip-off at 3:30pm central time and the game will be televised on ESPN2.

A Look at the Coaches

Rick Barnes, who is in his eleventh season at Texas, coaches the Longhorns. Barnes has a career record of 452-228, including 250-94 at Texas. Barnes is 16-10 in NCAA Tournament games at Texas.

Oregon is coached by Ernie Kent, who owns a career record of 304-216, including 6-6 in the NCAA Tournament and two Elite Eight appearances. Kent is 214-136 at Oregon.

A Look at the Numbers

Texas shoots 46.2% from the field, 37.3% from three and 57.3% from the free-throw line.

The Ducks convert 40.3% overall, 38.5% from the three-point line and 68.9% from the foul line.

The Longhorns surrender just 34.1% shooting and own a +8.0 rebound advantage.

Oregon gives up 43.6% defensively and check in with a -1.4 rebounding margin.

The Longhorns are committing 14.8 turnovers per game, while Oregon turns the ball over 15.4 times per contest.

The Longhorn Starters

G Justin Mason 6-2 Jr. (6.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists)

G A.J. Abrams 5-10 Sr. (19.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists)

F Damion James 6-7 Jr. (13.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals)

F Connor Atchley 6-11 Sr. (10.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks)

C Dexter Pittman 6-10 Jr. (8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds)

Key reserves include 6-7 sophomore Gary Johnson (103 points, 7.8 rebounds), 6-1 sophomore Dogus Balbay (1.0 point, 1.0 steal), 6-1 freshman Varez Ward (1.3 points, 2.0 rebounds), 6-8 sophomore Alexis Wangmene (4.0 points, 3.3 rebounds) and 6-10 sophomore Clint Chapman (1.8 points, 2.5 rebounds).

The Duck Starters

G Garrett Sim 6-1 Fr. (7.4 points, 2.8 assists)

G Tajuan Porter 5-6 Jr. (13.0 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists)

G LaKendrick Longmire 6-5 So. (10.4 points, 3.2 rebounds)

F Joevan Catron 6-6 Jr. (9.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists)

F Michael Dunigan 6-10 Fr. (15.0 points, 8.2 rebounds)

Key reserves include 6-5 freshman Matthew Humphrey (5.0 points, 1.4 rebounds), 6-2 sophomore Kamyron Brown (4.8 points, 3.2 assists), 6-4 freshman Teondre Williams (5.3 points, 1.3 rebounds), 6-8 freshman Josh Crittle (2.2 points, 4.0 rebounds) and 6-6 senior Churchill Odia (4.8 points, 2.4 rebounds).

Keys to the Game

The Longhorns must come out and match the physical play of Dunigan early. Dunigan will be the most physical post player Texas has faced as well as the most gifted around the rim.

Dunigan doesn't feature a polished offensive game, but he converts 60.8% of his field goal attempts. The Longhorns must be aware that he is a 56.5% free throw shooter and make him earn his points at the line.

The Ducks are not a very good defensive team at this point with a lot of new faces and inexperienced players. Oregon really struggles in rotation when the ball is swung side to side and when there is middle dribble penetration. If the Longhorns will stay away from one pass, quick shots in the half court, they will get just about any shot they desire and will force Oregon to rotate when they haven't shown the ability thus far..

Tajuan Porter is an interesting player to defend. Normally, Texas would hedge aggressively on a guard coming off of a ball screen. Because Porter is only 5-6, he looks to create space coming off the ball screen and often plays 27-28 feet away from the basket. Texas doesn't have to aggressively hedge on Porter until he shows the desire to split and create a straight line drive, but let himself work his way away from the basket and then contest long-range jump shots with a long arm in the face.

Freshman Matthew Humphrey has to be accounted for when he enters the game. The left-hander plays well out of triple threat, but looks to create space for a long range jump shot with a quick jab step.

Oregon will fire up a lot of three-pointers and hits 38.5%. Texas has to close out under control and get a hand in the face. If Texas is too aggressive on close outs, they stand the possibility of committing fouls on three-point attempts against a team that will draw the contact and welcome the free throws.

Porter and Longmire must be accounted for on defensive rotation. Both can knock down clear looks at a high rate.

If Catron catches the ball outside of 15 feet from the basket, Texas must not play too tight. Catron hasn't knocked down outside jumpers this year and Texas needs to make him earn the tight defense before they overplay and give up a drive to the basket.

Today is another game in which Texas has a length advantage. The Longhorns must pound the ball inside early and see if they can get Dunigan in foul trouble as well as allowing Gary Johnson to set the tone on the low blocks when he enters the game.

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