Chris Beard confident about tough men’s basketball non-conference schedule


Assad Malik

Texas head basketball coach Chris Beard leaves the court for halftime during a game against UTRGV on Dec. 3, 2021.

Matthew Caldwell, Sports Desk Editor

No. 12 Texas men’s basketball beat No. 10 Arkansas in a charity exhibition game Saturday, and the team officially kicks off its season Nov. 7 against UTEP.

Although the Longhorns start their season with a couple of easier opponents, the ensuing non-conference schedule is tough. Texas will play three preseason Top-25 teams within a month, including No. 2 Gonzaga, No. 9 Creighton and No. 23 Illinois.

“To play nationally ranked teams, beginning with Arkansas, was by design,” head coach Chris Beard said Oct. 27. “You don’t come to Texas to do anything but to play the best.”

Last season, Beard led the team into Spokane, Washington to take on then-No. 1 Gonzaga in just his second official game as Texas’ head coach, where the Longhorns ultimately fell short.

This year, the Bulldogs come to Austin in what will likely be the first ranked matchup in the Moody Center.

Just a few weeks later, Texas will take on Creighton in this year’s rendition of the Big 12-Big East Battle. The Bluejays returned most of their key starters and picked up the No. 3 transfer in Baylor Scheierman, so this matchup will be a real test for the Longhorns. 

Texas will travel to New York on Dec. 6, and play at Madison Square Garden, taking on Illinois, which landed the No. 10 and No. 14 transfers in Matthew Mayer and Beard’s former player Terrence Shannon Jr. 

Although these matchups will give Texas a chance to play some of the country’s best competition, Beard said it is important to not let wins and losses in these games define his team. 

“One responsibility that I feel is not to let our team get too high or too low under this schedule that we have,” Beard said.

The second-year Texas coach also expressed his excitement about being able to take on such stiff competition, emphasizing how crucial these games are for the growth of his team knowing that Texas plays in a conference that boasts five preseason Top-25 teams.

“It’s always been the objective of our non-conference schedules to prepare ourselves to play in the Big 12,” Beard said.

Almost every game the Longhorns play this year in Big 12 play will be a challenge, as nearly half of their matchups will come against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year.

In addition, Texas will take on No. 11 Tennessee on Jan. 28 as part of the Big 12-SEC Challenge, taking place during the middle of the Longhorns’ conference schedule.

This year’s strength-of-schedule will “pay dividends” according to Beard, who has made it very clear the team’s objective is to win the NCAA Tournament.

“Everybody can’t play here, everybody can’t coach here and everybody can’t work here,” Beard said. “It’s a different level of expectations, and that’s what excites me. That’s what drove me here.”