Longhorns look to extend home winning streak against unranked non-conference opponnents


Elisabeth Dillon

Sheldon McClellan handles the ball against Sam Houston State. McClellan is TExas’ leading scorer with 17.5 points per game

Nick Cremona

Texas is gearing up for yet another brutal December schedule, but before it faces four ranked opponents over a five-game stretch, the Longhorns welcome UT-Arlington to the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday. Regardless of the weather, it won’t be the warmest of welcomes. Texas leads the all-time series against the Mavericks 6-0, including an 80-62 win in Austin last year.

The Longhorns (4-2) have won the past 37 home games against unranked non-conference opponents and have lost just three non-conference home games since the 2002-2003 season. Despite a couple blemishes on their record, the Longhorns have held all six of their opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field. Under head coach Rick Barnes, Texas is 210-21 when holding teams under the 40 percent shooting mark.

The Mavericks (3-1) are led by senior center Jordan Reves, who is averaging 9.5 points and 12.3 rebounds per contest. Jamel Outler, a transfer from Texas Tech, is the only underclassman to average over five points per game and his .368 three-point field goal percentage is second highest on the team. Outler was a high school teammate of the Longhorns’ leading scorer, Sheldon McClellan, at Bellaire High School in Houston.

McClellan is averaging 17.5 points per game and leads Texas in free throw percentage, hitting 90 percent of his shots from the charity stripe.

“We think Sheldon can be a very special player,” Barnes said. “He is a prolific scorer in so many different ways if he wants to. He can score behind the arc, he can put it on the floor, and he’s good playing without the ball, but the biggest thing we’re after him about is defense. We need him to be effective in terms of standing in front of the ball.”

For the most part, Texas has been sound defensively and its 7.3 blocks per game rank second in the Big 12. The Longhorns have had turnover issues, but sometimes that’s the case when a team plays six freshmen and four sophomores every game. If Texas can take care of the ball and force the Mavericks into bad shots with defensive pressure, its non-conference home winning streak should remain intact.

“I don’t think we will have to win ugly,” McClellan said. “We will just have to value the ball better.”

Printed on Friday, November 30, 2012 as: Horns set up for winter stretch