The Crimson Tide will roll into the Frank Erwin Center on Friday for an 8:30 p.m. contest against Texas, the first between the two programs since 1971.
The Longhorns look to break a three-game losing skid and right the ship before hitting the road for a marquee matchup with Michigan. They haven’t shot the ball well lately, finishing Tuesday’s loss to UT-Arlington with a field goal percentage of 39 and just three makes in 23 attempts beyond the arc.
Head coach Shaka Smart said the poor shots are starting to result in lackluster defense on the opposite end of the court.
“When your offense isn’t going the way you want it to go, as a team or as an individual sometimes, there’s a residual effect that it has on your defense,” Smart said. “And that’s not acceptable. We’ve got to get better with that, and we will.”
Not having a true point guard on the court has accentuated Texas’ offensive struggles. Guard Eric Davis Jr. was expected to emerge as one of the team’s go-to scorers, but so far, he’s suffered from a sophomore slump. Davis was held scoreless against UT-Arlington, finishing 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-6 from three. He’s shooting 27.4 percent on the season and has been letting his poor shooting affect his aggressiveness on defense.
“In practice he’s a killer, he’s knocked down contested shots,” sophomore guard Kerwin Roach Jr. said of his teammate. “I guess his first couple shots don’t go in, and he kind of gets down on himself. I know for a fact that as the season goes he’s going to get over it and he’s just going to be the old Eric Davis.”
Until Davis Jr. finds his shot, Texas will continue to lean on the hot hand of sophomore guard Tevin Mack. He currently leads the team with 73 points and has hit 13 three-point shots.
But Alabama boasts a bevy of three-point shooters of its own. The Crimson Tide has made 50 buckets from beyond the arc, led by junior guards Riley Norris and Ar’Mond Davis, who both have nine. They have a deep, experienced roster and will challenge the Longhorns defensively.
Despite their 3–3 record, the Longhorns aren’t pressing the panic button yet. Roach Jr. said Texas knows it’s going to take some time for the young team to figure out the issues. Smart said the Longhorns will continue practicing hard and grow stronger from the adversity.
“As a team we’re going to have to find a way to show a level of resolve,” Smart said. “When you go through experiences like this, it can be something you can really learn from or you can repeat it if you’re not willing to understand as a team what you need to do differently.”