Longhorns set to take on South Alabama in CBE regional round

Stefan Scrafield

After an impressive win over a resilient Mercer team in its season opener, Texas will look to start the season with consecutive wins for the 12th straight season Tuesday.

The Longhorns will host the South Alabama Jaguars in their first game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. The Jaguars also enter the game at 1-0 after defeating Detroit in their season opener.

 “We’re expecting another challenge,” junior forward Jonathan Holmes said. “They’ve got some good post players and their guards can shoot. I’m excited to see how we do.”

With so much turnover on their roster during the offseason and Barnes’ implementation of a new offense, these Longhorns are no stranger to change. But perhaps the toughest adjustment for Texas thus far has had nothing to do with the decisions made by its departed players or the head coach, but the calls made by the officials.

The NCAA made major rule changes on the defensive side of the ball after last season. Under the new rules, players can no longer be as active with their hands on defense, creating a less physical game in which players must move their feet. Additionally, a more rigid set of rules has been introduced in the case of a block-charge situation.

“With these new rules in place, just about every coach in the country is telling their guys to drive the ball whenever they can,” said head coach Rick Barnes, who is a fan of the changes. “If the officials call the game the way they are expected to, the rule will benefit guys who are aggressive on the offensive end.”

While preseason discussion of the new rules was just speculation, the Longhorns witnessed the impact of the changes in their opener. A total of 49 free throws were attempted in the game — a number that was unheard of under the old format.

In an attempt to keep his team out of foul trouble, Barnes used a few different zone defenses throughout the contest against Mercer.

“I thought coach Barnes did a great job changing defenses,” Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman said. “The 1-3-1 worked well. They are so long, and they can close the gaps well, so it’s a very difficult defense to penetrate.”

Late in the second half Texas was forced to revert back to man defense, but the message had already been sent: Rick Barnes believes in using his zones whenever possible to limit opposing teams’ opportunities to draw fouls.

“We’ve spent a lot time working on our zone,” Barnes said. “I was disappointed to see it break down in the second half, but we’re going to continue to use it as we get used to these new rules.”