Hoops: Texas No. 3 In Preseason Coaches Poll

The Texas men's basketball team is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Top 25 Coaches poll. This marks the highest preseason rank for the Longhorns in the coaches' poll in school history.

The Horns were a preseason No. 5 prior to the 2002-03 Final Four season while its highest overall rank in the coaches' poll was No. 2 on Dec. 2, 2002.

Texas' lofty ranking will be tested early as the Horns collide with three teams listed in the Top Six. Texas is scheduled to face No. 1 Duke in East Rutherford, N.J., on December 10 (representing quite a day for the Burnt Orange in the Big Apple, as QB Vince Young is expected to be in town for the Heisman presentation). Texas travels to No. 12 Memphis on January 2 before hosting No. 4 Villanova on January 14. Texas travels to No. 6 Oklahoma on January 28 before concluding the regular season on March 5 when the Sooners visit Austin.

Last season, a youthful Texas team climbed as high as No. 10 by mid-January with a 14-3 mark but struggled to a 6-8 finish when leading scorer/rebounder P.J. Tucker was declared academically ineligible the same week starting C LaMarcus Aldridge was lost to a season-ending hip injury. Both starters are back, along with Big 12 Freshman of the Year point guard Daniel Gibson, second-team All-Big 12 F Brad Buckman and G Kenton Paulino. Head coach Rick Barnes considers those five his starting lineup but can expect solid contributions from, among others, F Mike Williams (one of four McDonalds All-Americans wearing a Texas uniform this season), F Dion Dowell (seven starts last season and now expected to fill the role of a Royal Ivey defensive stopper) and newcomer G A.J. Abrams.

The No. 3 ranking represents the sixth time in the last seven seasons that Texas has been ranked in the coaches' preseason poll. Texas was tabbed No. 22 in 1999-2000, No. 22 in 2001-02, No. 5 in 2002-03, No. 11 in 2003-04 and No. 15 last season. The Longhorns are one of three Big 12 Conference teams selected in the Top 25, joining Oklahoma (6) and Iowa State (23).

Texas tips off the 2005-06 campaign with an exhibition game against St. Mary's University (San Antonio) on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center. UT opens the regular season with a home game against Southern (La.) in the opening round of the Guardians Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 15 (7:30 p.m.) at the Erwin Center.

ESPN/USA Today Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll
Team (First Place votes) Points
1. Duke (28) 767
2. Connecticut 692
3. TEXAS (2) 683
4. Villanova (1) 644
5. Michigan State 632
6. Oklahoma 617
7. Gonzaga 540
8. Louisville 536
9. Arizona 532
10. Kentucky 511
11. Boston College 484
12. Memphis 354
13. Stanford 331
14. Alabama 295
15. West Virginia 265
16. Syracuse 210
17. Illinois 201
18 (t). UCLA 190
18 (t). Wake Forest 190
20. Iowa 176
21. Maryland 167
22. Indiana 153
23. Iowa State 118
24. George Washington 109
25. Nevada 88

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