Hoops: Horns slipping into poll oblivion

At least one voter in the ESPN/USA Today poll still believes Texas deserves a spot among the nation's top 25 teams. That true believer number may be as high as three (if three voters ranked UT No. 25). That's how many points the Horns received -- a whoppin' three -- in the latest edition of the coaches' poll, a point total that puts Texas behind 39 other teams.

Although the AP poll is not out as of this article's publication, you can expect results similar to those in the ESPN/USA Today poll. That's what happens when a team loses twice in a week, including once to lowly Kansas State. Sure the Wildcats beat Oklahoma State Saturday after tripping up Texas on Wednesday, but even with those two wins, K-State remains one game under .500 at 9-10 and still well into the 100s (at No. 124) in the latest RPI rankings. The Horns, while well over .500 at 14-7, are slipping into poll oblivion and NCAA Tourney jeopardy because of three losses in their last four games. UT held relatively steady in the simulated RPI following Saturday's one-point heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma in the Erwin Center, dropping just one spot from No. 23 to No. 24, but the Horns had a top five position in those all-important rankings less than two weeks ago.

With the conference losses piling up, Texas, after holding sole possession of second place in the Big 12 before Saturday, now stands tied for third with Texas Tech and Missouri at 5-3 in league play. The Horns, on a two-game losing streak, are staring at a potential standings free-fall with anymore losses, making this a week of must-win games. Texas travels to A&M Wednesday for a rematch with the Ags, who started this UT team's skid on Jan. 23, and hosts Colorado at the Drum on Saturday.

Since beating the Horns in Austin, the Aggies have played Kansas tough in College Station in a 12 point loss, beat league cellar dweller Iowa State in Ames 52-50 and dropped a 52 point decision to Baylor. That's not a misprint folks. Fifty-two points. The Bears destroyed A&M 97-45 Sunday in Waco, sending the Ags slinking back down the Brazos with a 9-13 overall record and a 3-5 conference mark (tied for seventh in Big 12 play with Baylor, Nebraska, K-State and CU).

Don't assume, though, that means the Horns are in for a walk at Reed Arena Wednesday. The Ags proved quite convincingly that they can play at the Horns' level with their 80-74 win in Austin. And Texas has also proven quite capable of playing down (or, in the case of Saturday's game with OU, up) to its level of competition. What the Horns have had trouble with of late is pulling out the win. See K-State. And see OU.

So there's no reason to expect anything other than a tight game in Aggieland Wednesday vs. RPI No. 137 A&M or even at home Saturday vs. the No. 96 Buffs (12-7, 3-5). And as Rick Barnes said after the Oklahoma loss, Texas must simply find a way to win those types of games. If the Horns are lookin' for an invite to the Big Dance, those wins need to start coming now.

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