Men’s basketball set to host Arkansas for charity exhibition game Saturday

Juan Ferro, General Sports Reporter

To mark the unofficial beginning of the men’s basketball season, Texas will host Arkansas for a charity exhibition game Saturday. 

Set to take place at the new Moody Center, all proceeds generated from the game will be donated to the Seedling Foundation and Break the Pipeline, Central Texas organizations that work to provide educational opportunities to youth and support social justice initiatives. Reserved seats were sold for $25, while Big Ticket holders can join The Corral, the newly designated student section. 

“I want to encourage the students to come to that game, get there early and join The Corral,” head coach Chris Beard said Oct. 12.

In 2018, the NCAA granted Division I schools the ability to apply for waivers to host exhibition games against other D-I schools, provided the games raise funds for charity and that schools do not exceed two such games per year.

Reigniting an old Southwest Conference rivalry, Arkansas will make its first trip to Austin since 2011. The two teams have only played each other six times since the Razorbacks left the Southwest Conference in 1991.  

“The Texas-Arkansas rivalry was awesome back in the day,” Beard said. “We(‘ve) got a lot of respect for their program and how they are building it. I really appreciate (Arkansas coach Eric Musselman) for doing this. I think it will be great for both teams.”

The Razorbacks were ranked No. 10 in the preseason AP Poll — second in the SEC — setting up an intriguing matchup with the No. 12 Longhorns.

The exhibition game will allow the Texas men’s basketball team to showcase its players against strong competition as the beginning of the season draws near. Texas will host UTEP on Nov. 7 to officially kick off the season.

The game will also provide the coaches with an opportunity to try different approaches and give different players on the roster a chance, Beard said.

“We’ll have some objectives we want to try to accomplish in the 40-minute game against some great competition,” Beard said. 

Since the game doesn’t officially count toward anything, Beard said he wants an opportunity to go through his squad and refine what works while maintaining the level of competition and sportsmanship of Texas basketball.

“The scoreboard will be on, so we’ll be competing as always,” Beard said. “But there will be some games within the game (too).”

The NCAA’s guidelines regarding charity exhibition games also allow student-athletes to become more involved with community activities. Beard said the Longhorns are proud to be associated with the Seedling Foundation and Break the Pipeline and that his players are invested in tackling the same social issues that the foundations focus on.

“(There’s) so many great causes in Austin, but these are two that we felt really impacted kids, and it was important to our players (to know) what we are doing with the money,” Beard said. “We look forward … to helping a lot of other organizations too. We’re just getting started being a part of the community as the men’s basketball team.”