Smart reviews UTRGV, previews Davidson and discusses Baker’s decision…

From Asheville, North Carolina, Shaka Smart met with the local media over Zoom to discuss the upcoming Maul/Asheville Invitational and the team following its win over UTRGV Wednesday night. A few notes:

— As reported yesterday, Shaka Smart stated Andrew Jones passed all his COVID-19 tests after he was held out of Wednesday’s game for precautionary reasons, and the rest of the program has tested negative as well.

“Knock on wood… hopefully we will have our full group going into the game tomorrow,” said Smart. Texas traveled to Asheville, North Carolina yesterday and practiced this morning.

— Unsurprisingly, Smart thinks Davidson (Monday at 11:00 a.m. on ESPN2) will be a really tough early test for the Longhorns and particularly because it is a difficult team to defend.

“Davidson has a really nice team, very good system. Very, very challenging to guard,” Smart said. “It starts with us being in a stance and communicating and just making sure we continue to play and fly around. It’s not necessarily about playing a perfect possession on defense. It’s about making sure that we have a relentless effort out there on the court as a group of five guys. That’s been a big emphasis.”

Davidson will undoubtedly test UT’s awareness, and commitment to playing full defensive possessions consistently with good effort. Although recent Davidson teams haven’t been strong on the offensive glass, Texas will need to close out defensive possessions with rebounds better than it did against UTRGV.

“Defensive rebounding is an area we had a good rebounding advantage the other day, but we gave up too many offensive rebounds,” stated Smart. “So, that’s an area where we need to be better, something that we’ve worked on throughout the preseason, but it’s about carrying it over and Davidson does a nice job with physicality. So, we’ve got to make sure that we’re aggressive on the glass.”

The Longhorns will aim to flex their athleticism and length in what they want to be an uptempo game. But they know transition defense must be solid and even in an uptempo game the commitment to half-court defense will be crucial against Davidson.

“We got out of transition a good amount. It’s really important that we play uptempo, and we press the advantage of just being athletic and being long and using our speed in transition. The flip side of that is transition defense. I think we’re making we’re making some progress with that but still an area where we need to make a lot of strides.

“Then like I said just defending some different actions in the half court is going to be a real challenge. Davidson’s… they’re very, very good at what they do. They’ve been doing it for a long time. And so for our guys, it’s about communicating, playing a stance and again continuing to fly around.”

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