Hoops: Horns 3rd In Big 12 Coaches' Poll

League coaches tabbed Texas as the third-best team in the Big 12 heading into the '04-'05 season, behind Kansas and last year's surprise standout Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks and the Cowboys are co-favorites, with each squad receiving six first-place votes in voting by the conference's 12 head coaches.

OSU won last season's title with a 14-2 mark, followed at 12-4 by Texas and Kansas at 12-4. The Cowboys advanced to the Final Four, the Horns made a Sweet Sixteen appearance and the Jayhawks fell in the Regional Finals. While the same three teams are expected to battle it out for Big 12 supremacy this year, the coaches pick Oklahoma at No. 4 in a return to contention after a middle-of-the pack finish last year. Missouri (No. 5), Iowa State (No. 6), Texas Tech (No. 7), Nebraska (No. 8), Kansas State (No. 9), Colorado (No. 10), Texas A&M (No. 11) and Baylor (No. 12) round out the pre-season rankings.

Although Texas is again picked near the top, the Horns will have to earn their way there with a vastly different line-up than last season. Brandon Mouton, Royal Ivey, James Thomas and Brian Boddicker graduated and guard Edgar Moreno transferred, leaving Rick Barnes with multiple holes to fill. Last year's freshman sensation P.J. Tucker is expected to remain a fixture, and returners Kenton Paulino, Kenny Harris, Sydmill Harris, Brad Buckman and Jason Klotz should also contribute significantly, but some of the burden will fall on members of UT's fabulous freshman class of Daniel Gibson, Dion Dowell, Mike Williams, Connor Atchley and LaMarcus Aldridge.

If the season were to start today, Taylor, Tucker and Buckman would be at the 2, 3 and 4 spots, respectively, Gibson would get the starting nod at point guard and Aldridge would see significant action and possibly get the start ahead of senior Klotz at center.

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