On Saturday’s Senior Night, the two will play their final home game at the Frank Erwin Center when Texas takes on No. 11 Baylor.
In spite of a season filled with letdowns and losses, head coach Shaka Smart praised his seniors for their commitment to the team.
“Oh we definitely have benefited (from them),” Smart said. “They’ve had some really good moments. They’ve had some times where we’ve been able to win some games that we would not have won without them. I think that’s what it’s all about.”
Both players showed improvement in their final season with the Longhorns.
Before being sidelined midseason with a left ankle injury, Yancy was averaging a career-high in points, steals and blocks per game.
The guard experienced limited playing time after being cleared from the injury, but his production has ramped back up over the past several weeks.
For Cleare, this year has been a revelation. The center is averaging career highs across the board and has stepped up as a major offensive weapon for the team. After scoring in double digits only twice last year, Cleare has reached the mark 12 times this season.
Their individual successes have been impressive, but Smart has been just as impressed with what Yancy and Cleare have been able to do off the court.
“You know, one thing I feel really good about is that they’re both on track to graduate,” Smart said. “When we first got here, there were several things up in the air about (graduating). They’ve done a good job of putting in the time and the work, in some cases taking more classes than they needed at the moment, so they could put themselves in that position.”
Seizing a victory against Baylor will be a tall task for Texas. The Bears have proven to be a threat with their suffocating brand of defense. Opposing teams are averaging a conference low 62.4 points per game against Baylor and are shooting an abysmal 39.5 percent from the field.
The Bears are coming off of a convincing 71-62 win over No. 10 West Virginia, bouncing back after a tight loss to Iowa State.
The Longhorns have lost six straight games — the last three by double digits.
The amount of losing this year has been disappointing for a senior class with high preseason expectations, but Yancy said the team hasn’t given up on a late run.
“It’s really hard (losing), especially for the seniors,” Yancy said. “We have to be able to respond after losses because there’s still hope. Any hope we can find we’ll take it and run with it.”
The Longhorns’ regular season finale against Baylor is their last chance to capture some “hope” before the Big 12 Tournament.
In addition to Yancy and Cleare, Texas will send off graduate transfer Mareik Isom and senior walk-on Ryan McClurg. The Senior Night clash tips off at 3 p.m.