Texas finding groove as favorable schedule nears

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Texas began the season outside The Associated Press Top 25. The Longhorns were picked to finish third in the Big 12 preseason poll.

In short, neither the media nor league coaches expected Texas to be where it is now — 8-0 in conference play and sitting atop the Big 12 standings.

In addition, it is No. 3 in both national polls behind undefeated Ohio State and No. 2 Kansas, whose only loss came to the Longhorns in January.

The Longhorns haven’t just won their first eight games of Big 12 play, they have dominated, winning each by double-digit points, which included a stretch in which they played four ranked opponents in five games.

Texas has never been undefeated this far into Big 12 competition. The best Big 12 record that the Longhorns have finished with is 13-3, which they have done five times.

The most difficult part of Texas’ schedule is out of the way. No ranked teams remain on the schedule. But that doesn’t mean the Longhorns will be able to breeze through February and into March Madness.

“I don’t think you really have a chance to feel good one way or the other until after the season,” head coach Rick Barnes said Monday. “There’s a lot of basketball left to play when you really think about it.”


Here’s a look at the Longhorns’ remaining schedule.

@ Oklahoma: Tonight

The Sooners lost by 20 points when they came to Austin in January. After losing its first three conference games, Oklahoma has won four of its last five games. All the wins came in Norman. The Sooners have won the last two matchups with Texas in Norman.

Vs. Baylor: Saturday

The Bears had high expectations this year after reaching the Elite Eight in Houston 11 months ago. Baylor has lacked consistency this season. At 5-4 in conference play, which places them third in the Big 12, the Bears have had the Longhorns’ number recently, winning the last four matchups dating back to March 2009. Prior to that, Texas had not fallen to the Bears since 1998.

Vs. Oklahoma State: Feb. 16

Texas took care of the Cowboys with easy ease in January at Stillwater and should have little trouble with them at home. After back-to-back wins over Missouri and Oklahoma, the Cowboys are one of four teams in the Big 12 currently at 4-5 and among the nine teams that are within two games of each other.

@ Nebraska: Feb. 19

This is one of those scary games for the Longhorns. Nebraska lost by 40 points to Texas last season and will be looking for revenge in their final regular season Big 12 matchup. The Longhorns have struggled their last two times in Lincoln, losing by four in 2009 and stealing a one-point win in 2007. The Huskers have impressive wins against Texas A&M and Colorado. They also nearly upset Kansas last month.

Vs. Iowa State: Feb 22

If there is one game that Longhorns should have no trouble with, it is Iowa State. The Cyclones have lost their last six games. They will probably be even more beaten up when they come to Austin as it will be their last of four straight games against ranked opponents.

@ Colorado: Feb 26
This will be another trap game for the Longhorns. It is never easy to play in the high altitude of Boulder and to make things ever more difficult, the Buffaloes are pretty good this season. Colorado have won three of four home Big 12 games this year with the only loss coming down to the final minute against Kansas.

Vs. Kansas State: Feb 28
The Wildcats have had the Longhorns in almost every sport the last couple years and men’s basketball is no different. Kansas State has won the last two meetings with Texas. The Wildcats have struggled this year though as they have been one of the most disappointing teams in college basketball.

@ Baylor: March 5
Senior day in Waco could cause some trouble for the Longhorns.