FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks will open the basketball season against old Southwest Conference rival Texas on Friday night, but the Longhorns already are 1-0.
Texas, which plays the University of Arkansas in the Armed Services Classic at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, beat Eastern Illinois 71-59 on Tuesday night at home in the Erwin Center.
Arkansas men vs Texas in the Armed Services Classic
WHEN 6 p.m. Friday
WHERE Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas
RECORDS Arkansas 0-0; Texas 1-0
SERIES Arkansas leads 87-67
RADIO Razorback Sports Network
"I thought we played about 15 minutes of really impressive basketball for November 6th," Longhorns Coach Shaka Smart said in his postgame news conference. "Obviously, the goal is to extend that to 40.
"We have a long to way to go to get to that point, but I would say that's the case for almost anyone this time of year."
Arkansas actually will be the third SEC team Texas has played since practice started, though this will be the first matchup that counts on the Longhorns' record.
Texas didn't play exhibition games NCAA Division II schools, but instead opted for closed scrimmages against LSU and Texas A&M.
Arkansas won exhibition games against Tusculum 96-47 and Southwest Baptist 100-63.
"We had an opportunity if we wanted to," Anderson said of scheduling a regular-season game earlier this week before playing Texas. "But we had a couple of exhibition games.
"I think it does give [the Longhorns] a feeling of having an opportunity to be on the floor and play a game, but it is what it is."
Sophomore guard Matt Coleman led Texas with 13 points, 7 assists and 2 steals against Eastern Illinois.
"Today set the bar," Coleman said after game. "Now, we've just got to build on it."
Jaxson Hayes, a 6-11 freshman, had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots off the bench for the Longhorns.
Texas returns four starters from last season's 19-15 team that lost to Nevada 87-83 in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and its five-man freshman class was ranked No. 8 nationally by ESPN and 247Sports.
"They're very, very athletic and have some quick guards that can jump out of the gym, and some guys that are versatile that can step out and shoot the basketball," Anderson said. "We're going to have our hands full with this Texas team."
Longhorns senior guard Kerwin Roach, a starter last season who averaged 12.3 points, was suspended against Eastern Illinois because of an undisclosed violation of team rules, but he'll be reinstated for the Arkansas game.
Eastern Illinois led Texas 25-23 before the Longhorns went on a 15-3 run the last 3:34 of the first half to take a 38-28 halftime lead. Texas led by as many as many as 23 points, 62-39, with 8:16 remaining.
"We were definitely, I would say the first eight, 10 minutes, a little bit jittery and nervous and unsure, sometimes out there with plays that guys routinely make in practice or shots they make more often," Smart said. "But I thought our guys settled in and we got the style of play going as the half wore on."
Longhorns junior guard Andrew Jones, who missed much of last season batting leukemia, played nine minutes off the bench.
"It felt good just having his presence," Coleman said. "You could see the fans, they really care about him. He handled it very humbly. Andrew wants to be treated like he's one of us."
Texas junior guard Elijah Mitrou-Long had 9 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.
"We had [a] 15-minute stretch where we showed great glimpses," Mitrou-Long said. "But I still feel we need to improve on a lot of things."
The fans gave Jones a standing ovation when Smart put him into the game with 11:40 left.
"When he checked in, I guess it just hit me and probably hit a lot of people in the building that this guy was laying in the hospital bed a matter of months ago," Smart said. "Now, he's out there in a Texas uniform."
Sports on 11/08/2018
Print Headline: Texas has opener already under belt