As much as I hate to do this to my fellow Aggies, I am officially hopping aboard the Texas Longhorns bandwagon. Only for this season’s basketball team, though.
This is the perfect time for Longhorn fans to take a vacation from football. Just for a little while. Why focus on that program’s rising number of decommitments when you can celebrate this program’s five-game winning streak?
Now that I’ve taken my shot at Texas, I’ll be serious. Rick Barnes and the gang are for real. SMU is taking care of business. Baylor might need a therapist. UTEP is making its move and Stephen F. Austin is actually pretty good. Also, I’m going at least two weeks without saying anything nice about Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Both went a combined 0-4 last week
Tech lost to West Virginia by 6 on the road and to ranked Oklahoma by 9 at home. Not too bad. My Aggies lost to Kentucky by 17 on the road and to Vanderbilt by 11 at home. Very bad. If only we could play TCU every game right?
Ok, that’s enough ranting on the state’s bottom feeders. Let’s look at the best in Texas:
1. Texas Longhorns (16-4, 5-2 Big 12)
The Horns have now knocked off THREE ranked teams in a row after dismantling then #24 Baylor in Waco, 74-60. Freshman guard Isaiah Taylor went off for 27 points on 10-18 shooting. Cameron Ridley dominated the paint with 14 rebounds and 2 blocks. Their stifling defense held Baylor to 32.1% from the field and 17.6% from three-point range. Along with Kansas, this is the hottest team in the Big 12. Oh, and guess who’s next on the schedule? The Jayhawks at home on Saturday.
2. SMU Mustangs (16-4, 5-2 AAC)
I wanted to put the Ponies at #1, I really did. Texas just has more impressive victories, right now. SMU has been remarkably consistent, though. Larry Brown has his group on their own five-game winning streak after a 75-68 comeback win over Houston yesterday. Nic Moore, a 5-9 sophomore guard, scored a career-high 28 points against the Cougars. The Mustangs continue to win the games they’re supposed to and sit at 3rd in their conference standings, behind #15 Cincinnati and #7 Louisville. With #22 Memphis coming to Dallas on Saturday, it’s time to find out how good this team really is. Don’t expect them to disappoint.
3. Baylor Bears (13-6, 1-5 Big 12)
Times have certainly changed for team that was once #7 in the AP Poll after a victory over Kentucky back in December. Make it four straight losses for the Bears, now. In those losses, they averaged only 66 points per game and shot 38% from the field. Baylor is much better than their play indicates and should not be 1-5 in conference play. With as strong as the Big 12 is this year though, I’m not sure they can turn it around. They still play Oklahoma State twice, Kansas State twice, Kansas, Iowa State, @Oklahoma, and @Texas. Their NCAA Tournament hopes are starting to dwindle and Scott Drew’s seat is getting a little hotter. A Tuesday night home game against West Virginia couldn’t come sooner.
4. UTEP Miners (14-6, 4-1 C-USA)
Coach Tim Floyd has the Miners playing their best basketball of the season. Led by junior forward and Duncanville product, Julian Washburn (12.1 PPG), UTEP has won 9 of their last 10 games. Earlier this month, the team dismissed three players, including leading scorer McKenzie Moore (13.1 PPG), for gambling on athletic events. Despite this FBI investigation, Floyd has been able to rally the troops. The Miners are currently a half game back of Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech in the conference standings. A win over the Bulldogs on Thursday night at home could create even more buzz for a program that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2010.
5. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (18-2, 7-0 Southland)
It’s time to finally give the Jacks some love. First year coach Brad Underwood has now guided his team to a whopping 15 straight victories. They also possess the nation’s longest road winning streak with eight consecutive away victories. Yes, the strength of schedule is garbage (336th in the country), but at least they’re obliterating their opponents. The Jacks’ margin of victory in their seven conference wins is 15.7 points. Junior forward and Oklahoma native Jacob Parker (15.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG) has been the star of the show with seven double-doubles this season. Stephen F. Austin is looking like the heavy favorite to take home the Southland Conference championship come March.