Texas coach Shaka Smart wouldn’t guarantee whether the hair was here to stay after the Longhorns have won two in a row to start the season.
“The only reason I grew my hair out is because my daughter or wife asked me to,” Smart said. “So I try to do a good job doing what they say.”
With a new-look Smart, The No. 17 Longhorns (2-0) will look to continue their success when they face Indiana in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday afternoon (1:30 p.m. ET).
Texas knocked off Davidson 78-76 in a dramatic finish to open tournament play on Monday, needing a driving basket from Courtney Ramey with 20 seconds left to pull off the win.
“Our guys held it together for being our first close game pretty well,” Smart said. “Courtney made a big, big play at the end to give us the lead, but certainly a game to grow on. We’re going to have to grow either way, but it’s certainly better to grow after a win.”
Specifically, Smart said Texas is going to need to continue to show growth defensively. Texas had a hard time guarding Davidson’s actions, allowing the Wildcats to shoot 56.5 percent from the floor for the game. Smart said he felt that Texas was a step behind defensively for most of the game.
“We’ve got a long way to go defensively with our guys and one-on-one defense,” Smart said. “I think as a team they know that.”
Offensively, Texas had six players score in double figures in the Davidson win, led by 14 points from Ramey.
“Spreading scoring around, I mean, it’s not really — by design, we have a lot of guys that can contribute to our team offensively,” Smart said.
Indiana (2-0) is coming into the matchup on an upswing after knocking off Providence 79-58 in its tournament opener. The Hoosiers got big production inside from junior forward Race Thompson, who scored a career-high 22 points in the win and posted his first career double-double with 13 rebounds.
“Coach told me before the game, ‘Just go out with extreme confidence and do what you do,'” Thompson said. “That’s what it was. I put in a lot of work in the offseason, changed my body and it’s just showing right now.”
Indiana coach Archie Miller said he was pleased with the physicality the Hoosiers played with in matching up with Providence. Indiana outrebounded Providence 42-33 in the win and outscored the Friars 36-26 in the paint.
“This is a team that has to pride itself on a tough-mindedness, a scrappiness, and a team that’s very, very resilient,” Miller said.
Miller said he’s concerned with the challenges that Texas will present on Tuesday.
“They have a talented group back, very athletic and long, with experience, and Shaka does a tremendous job,” Miller said. “They play, have always played and will play hard for them, and I know offensively they will be very fast and will be very talented. This is a game where we’re going to have to answer the bell.”
–Field Level Media