Senior guard Kerwin Roach II, known as “Snoop,” is back from an “indefinite” suspension that turned into five games. The Longhorns went 1-4 with Roach sidelined, and are in desperation mode going into Thursday’s game against Kansas.
Texas (16-15) is essentially in a must-win situation to secure an NCAA Tournament berth, and it’ll be a nice jolt to get the team’s leading scorer back in the lineup.
“He’s excited to play,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “He’s been practicing this whole stretch when he’s been out. He’s been working hard on his game. He’s really looking forward to get out and play.”
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Smart would like to see Roach bring three things to the Longhorns in his return -- a defensive presence and aggressiveness; creating shots for himself and others on the offensive end; and a “positive energy and spirit” as a teammate.
Smart described Roach as “very apologetic” for violating team rules that led to his suspension.
Texas officials did not make Roach available for comment Wednesday after a shootaround session at the Sprint Center, but it’s clear that his teammates are excited for his return.
Roach has averaged a team-leading 15 points in 24 games, including 23 starts, this season. It’s unclear whether he’ll return to the starting lineup or come off the bench, but his presence will be a welcomed sight for a team that’s lost four of its last five.
“Snoop will help a lot,” sophomore guard Matt Coleman III said. “It’s good having his presence back, his sense of scoring, his veteran presence on the court. That will help.”
Asked if he was “mad” at Roach for getting suspended, Coleman said: “Not mad. It’s a lesson learned. Things happen. You grow, become a better man, better individual. Now it’s just focused on tomorrow and how he can help us tomorrow.”
Baylor senior guard Makai Mason will play against Iowa State on Thursday.
Mason missed the regular-season finale at Kansas with a toe injury, but declared himself ready to go Wednesday.
“You don’t want to waste any opportunities, honestly, just to compete,” Mason said. “You don’t know how long you’re going to get in this game.”
Mason also doesn’t want to lose his “rhythm” on the offensive end. He’s averaging 14.6 points for the Bears, and more rest wouldn’t necessarily heal the injury before the NCAA Tournament.