Penn State Basketball will take on No. 2 seed Texas in the round of 32 on Saturday.
Here is everything you need to know about Texas ahead of Penn State Basketball’s second round matchup with the Longhorns.
Riding high off of its huge victory over Texas A&M in the round of 64, Penn State Basketball is prepping for its next tough test.
Texas earned the 2 seed in the region with a fantastic season from start to finish with an overall record of 27-8. They only lost one non-conference game to a tournament team in Illinois and got wins over other tournament teams like Gonzaga and Creighton. They carried this momentum into conference play, finishing second in a conference that featured 7 tournament teams with a conference record of 12-6. They went on to win the Big 12 tournament, finishing it with a dominant 20-point win against 1 seeded Kansas.
In round 1 the Longhorns handed 15 seed Colgate a brutal 20-point loss where they just looked dominant. Colgate just could not handle the athleticism and touch of big man Dylan Disu as he got a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Sir’Jabari Rice was the x-factor scoring 23 points off the bench with 7 made threes. They passed the ball extremely well, finishing with 20 assists as a team and everyone but 1 player having at least 1. Their three-point defense was fantastic, holding a great shooting team in Colgate to just 3 made threes, but Colgate was able to do some damage in the paint.
Texas is led by former Pitt and Minnesota senior guard Marcus Carr. When Carr first transferred to Texas for the 21-22 season, he was considered the best transfer in the nation and that season at Texas would just be one more tune-up before he went pro. Unfortunately for himself and Texas, he struggled, scoring just 11 points a game on under 40% shooting from the field with his lowest assist total of his career. This led to Carr taking advantage of his extra COVID year of eligibility to return for one more year in a decision that looks like it worked out great for all parties involved. He is back to scoring 16 points a game on the best efficiency of his career with a line of 43/37/77.
Beyond Carr their next leading scorer is senior New Mexico State transfer Sir’Jabari Rice. He usually comes off the bench, but he is still top 4 on the team in minutes per game. He is an absolute sniper from deep that loves to fire it whenever he gets the chance. He shoots 37% from deep but is more deadly than the percentage indicates, which he showed in round 1 by hitting 7 threes against Colgate. He is not just a pure shooter from deep, however. In the Big 12 championship game Kansas did a great job running him off the line, holding him to just 2 three-point attempts. He was able to beat the aggressive defense by getting to his mid-range and to the rim, usually utilizing his fantastic shot fake, and still finished the game with 17 points on 7-12 shooting from the field. Their forwards Dylan Disu and Tommy Allen, both seniors, are dominant presences inside, scoring almost all their points inside the arc.
As a team the Longhorns love scoring inside the three-point line and in transition with crafty guard play and great passing. They shoot 47% from the field on the season and love to get guys like Disu and Allen good looks on the block or at the rim. Their passing is what makes this Texas offense really special, however. They average 16 assists a night which is a top 20 mark in the country. While Carr obviously leads the charge, the veteran team as a whole is very good at finding the open man and cutting and moving into open areas to receive the passes. If all else fails, the Longhorns backcourt of Carr and Hunter have shown the ability to knock down some tough shots to energize the offense.
Texas is a very stout defensive team that loves to overplay passing lanes in order to generate turnovers and jump out in transition. They are not the best rebounding team, and they don’t necessarily try to be, instead opting to leak out more on both ends to start transition opportunities for themselves and limit them for the other team.
This is a tough game for the Nittany Lions, but not really a terrible matchup. Texas is not that big so they can’t take advantage of a size difference that easily like we have seen teams like Purdue and Indiana do against the Nittany Lions. Their guards are on the shorter end which is a great matchup for Pickett to attack in the post and score inside. Additionally with Pickett, Texas is very hesitant to bring a double team. We will see if this remains true with Pickett, but we could be in for a big scoring night from the senior point guard if he gets to face 1v1 defense. Even if Texas does not bring a double, but especially if they do, Penn State will need another great shooting game from the likes of Funk, Lundy, and Dread.
On defense the Nittany Lions have to focus on getting back in transition. They have been great at this all year, but Texas’ transition play will still be a challenge to contain. They also have to stay very disciplined with their matchups. Any mistake or falling a step behind will usually lead to a Longhorn bucket with their amazing passing as a team. Adding pressure to their bigs would be helpful to throw them off their rhythm but you have to make sure you can still recover back to shooters, especially Rice.
It is going to be a tough game against a very talented Texas team, but Penn State Basketball does not seem like they will be overmatched in this round of 32 matchup. The game will be played at Des Moines, Iowa at 7:45 PM EST on CBS.