Posted by Ryan Clark at 12:29PM

After Saturday’s loss to OU, the Longhorns dropped to 14th in both major polls. The Jayhawks maintained their comfortable hold on the No. 1 ranking heading into tonight’s game, while Kansas State moved up to 9th in both polls. Baylor is 25th in the Associated Press rankings, but fell into the “Others Receiving Votes” category in the Coaches Poll. A&M, meanwhile, is on the cusp of both polls, with only Saturday’s road game at Tech standing between them and a ranking next Monday.

Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology slots Texas as a 3-seed in the Salt Lake City regional, where Villanova is projected as the 1-seed. Lunardi has the Horns in New Orleans, with a potential second-round match-up against Georgia Tech and freshman phenom Derrick Favors. Interestingly enough, in this hypothetical bracket, a potential rematch with Michigan State could await Texas in the Sweet 16.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 3:45AM

Kevin Durant was named an NBA All-Star on Thursday
(Photo credit: Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman)

On Thursday night, Kevin Durant was named to the Western Conference All-Star team as a reserve. It’s the first time a former Longhorn has been tabbed for that honor since superstar Slater Martin’s seven-year All-Star run from 1952 to 1959. Durant is averaging 29.3 points per game through Oklahoma City’s first 45 contests, along with 7.3 boards and three assists.

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The Texas road win against Arkansas looks a little better after the Hogs knocked off Mississippi State in Fayetteville last night. Courtney Fortson dropped 35 points in the victory on 53% shooting from the field. Elsewhere, the Pitt Panthers needed a second-half surge to knock off visiting St. John’s, while Long Beach State edged out Cal State-Northridge. Unfortunately, that was the extent of the good news for the Longhorn strength of schedule, as Cal-Irvine, Western Carolina, USC, and Gardner-Webb all lost last night.

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Texas tumbled to 7th in Luke Winn’s latest Power Rankings, but what interests us most in his column is the conversation with NBA scouts. Winn reports that the consensus is that Damion James is a mid- to late-first rounder, and that the scouts would prefer to see Avery Bradley stay in school for another year, even though he’d be selected early in this year’s draft. Can we get extra copies of that column sent to AB in April?

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We squeezed in lots and lots of work on the photo galleries tonight. Our latest update includes albums from the UNC, Rice, and Kansas State games, with the ones for Arkansas and UConn likely coming your way this weekend. Click here to browse all of the photos currently available.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 3:11PM

Texas slid to sixth in both polls this afternoon following back-to-back losses on the road. The Kentucky Wildcats ascended to the top spot as the nation’s lone undefeated team, while Kansas moved up to second in both rankings.

The K-State Wildcats took a slight dip after a home loss to Oklahoma State, even though they were the first team to knock off Texas with a Big Monday victory earlier in the week. KSU is 11th in the media poll and is ranked 13th by coaches. Baylor is the only other Big 12 representative, checking in at 24th in the Associated Press rankings, although Texas A&M, Missouri, and Oklahoma State all received votes in both polls.

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The Longhorns also took a dive in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology, sliding to the 2-seed line in the Salt Lake City regional. In Lunardi’s mock bracket, Texas is paired with 1-seed Syracuse, an absolute nightmare match-up for a Longhorn team that is paralyzed by zone defenses.

The Jayhawks maintained their hold on a 1-seed, but were moved to the Houston regional that the Longhorns vacated. Lunardi awarded five other bids to the Big 12, putting K-State (3-seed), Baylor (5), Missouri (8), A&M (9), and Oklahoma State (11) in the mix.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 5:38AM

With Kansas’ stunning road loss to a depleted Tennessee Volunteers team yesterday afternoon, the Jayhawk stranglehold on the No. 1 ranking is finally over. And with Purdue falling at Wisconsin just a day earlier, that leaves only two undefeated contenders vying for that top spot — the Kentucky Wildcats and your Texas Longhorns.

The Wildcats were pushed for 38 minutes by the Georgia Bulldogs in Rupp Arena on Saturday, while Texas logged double-digit victories against Colorado and on the road against Arkansas. The Longhorns already had eight first place votes in last week’s AP Poll, while one coach tabbed Texas as the best team in the land. Kentucky managed just one vote for first, in the Associated Press rankings.

All signs point to the first-ever No. 1 ranking in school history for the Longhorns. This afternoon, we’ll find out if it really happens.

Posted by Ryan Clark at 9:46AM

[12] Colorado Buffaloes (9-21) at Texas Longhorns (20-10)
Ford Center | Oklahoma City, OK | Tip: Approx. 2 PM CDT
TV: Big 12 Network (Local affiliate list) and ESPN Full Court

Texas opens the Big 12 tournament with one of those awful games that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. A win over the league’s worst team, Colorado, does absolutely nothing for the Longhorns’ computer profile. In fact, playing against a team with such an awful record actually hurts the numbers that the NCAA Selection Committee is looking at as they fill out the bracket. In short, Texas has nothing to gain by beating the Buffaloes, but unfortunately has a lot to lose.

Cory Higgins leads the charge for Colorado
(Photo credit: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)

Stumbling against Colorado — something that Baylor did in last season’s tournament as the 5-seed — could easily cost the Longhorns a seed line or two when the NCAA brackets come out next Sunday. And for a team that has been vacillating between 7- and 8-seeds in most projections for the last four weeks, losing ground on the S-curve is a recipe for disaster. The Longhorns have to make a showing in this week’s tournament if they want to avoid a potential match-up with a 1- or 2-seed in the NCAA’s second round. Unfortunately, that run will have to start with this damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t trap game.

If you missed the game preview from the first time these two teams met, you will want to check it out for a detailed look at the Colorado players, their style of basketball, and how they match up with the Longhorns. If you’ve already read over that fine piece of literature, carry on for a quick preview of today’s tilt…

The previous meeting

Although Texas needed overtime for an 85-76 win, the Longhorns actually played remarkably well for most of the game. A.J. Abrams dropped 29, while Damion James had a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Texas fans will remember that James missed two opportunities to win the game at the free throw line in regulation, but his performance in overtime is what sealed the deal.

It wasn’t just the two stars who were clicking, as the Longhorns shot over 57% from the field and were seemingly unstoppable. Where they tripped up was in allowing the much shorter and guard-oriented Colorado team to grab just two rebounds less than the Longhorns. As we mentioned in the game preview of the first match-up, the lineup and style of play that Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik employs means that Texas should be absolutely dominating the glass when these two teams meet.

Texas was also completely unable to shut down super soph Cory Higgins, who went off for 34 points, nine of which came at the line. Higgins shot 55% from the field, including a 3-of-5 afternoon from long range. Jermyl Jackson-Wilson doubled his season average with 10 against the Longhorns, while grabbing three key offensive rebounds in the game.

Since then…

When these teams first met on Valentine’s Day, the Buffaloes were fresh off a string of games where they had been putting scares into the top teams of the Big 12 Conference. Since then, Colorado has lost its remaining six games, but continued to play tough basketball that kept them in the contests until late.

Although the Buffaloes suffered a 21-point blowout loss at home against Oklahoma State followed by an 18-point embarrassment versus Baylor in Waco, they hung tough against quality teams from the top half of the conference in the other four losses. While none of those games were as impressive as the mid-season games that Colorado played on the road against Oklahoma and Kansas, their performance shows that these young Buffaloes are not yet throwing in the towel.

Higgins is one player in particular who is still giving 110% every night. In the last three games of the season, he averaged 23 points per contest on 49% shooting and swiped five steals. Unfortunately for the Buffs, Higgins still struggled with hanging on to the basketball. The Wildcats forced him to cough it up six times in the season finale on Saturday, giving him a final line on the year that includes a troubling 0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Texas needs Damion James to crash the glass
(Photo credit: Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)

Keys to the game

Dominate the rebounding battle – As it was in our first game preview for Colorado, the No. 1 key for this game is rebounding. Texas is much bigger than Colorado, and the Buffs’ affinity for a four-guard look with a post that sets high screens means that there is no excuse for the poor job the Longhorns did on the glass during the first match-up. Today Texas needs to keep Colorado off the boards — particularly Jackson-Wilson on the offensive end — and convert those solid defensive stands into one-and-done possessions.

Turn Higgins into a mere mortal – There is no doubt that this sophomore sensation is a great player, and next season could even lead Colorado out of the bottom rungs of the league standings. But if you take away even half of his 34-point performance from the February 14th game, Texas wins that one in a cakewalk. The Longhorns can’t sell out to guard Higgins, but he is by far their biggest offensive threat, and he warrants added defensive attention today. Texas needs to communicate on defense so they don’t lose the little guard as they fight through the infinite number of screens that Colorado is going to throw out there.

Play injury-free – Rather than a key to winning this game, we’re going with the big picture for No. 3 in our rundown. As we mentioned in the lead, Texas is in a no-win situation with this game. Losing it will cost them a few seed lines, but losing any of their key players in a win is no better. While you can’t really plan for a game with no tweaked ankles or knees, let’s all pull for the Longhorns to come out healthy on the other side of this one.

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