Thursday Longhorn Sports Page

Stay up to date on all things Burnt Orange with a daily stop at IT's Longhorn Sports Page, with links to the latest news and opinion articles on UT football, basketball, baseball, recruiting and other sports from around the web.

Football recruiting:

'09 Unwrapped: Alex Okafor
With unofficial visits to his three favorites behind him, Pflugerville (Tex.) defensive end Alex Okafor is now contemplating his options in the hopes of identifying the best fit for where he can see himself spending his college years. Read on for what the elite defensive end finds appealing about each of his finalists, where his recruitment currently stands, and more.

Inside the Class of '08: Williams
In Inside Texas' Inside the Class Series, we give exclusive interviews, info and exclusive photos from IT photographer Will Gallagher on the Longhorns class of '08. Today: Cornerback Aaron Williams.

Men's hoops:

The Inside Texas Podcast
We're at the halfway point of spring football and the Big 12 basketball tournament is upon us! On the podcast, Inside Texas' Ross and Ross preview the Big 12 tourney and discuss how much it actually matters to the Horns. Plus, what are the biggest questions that still need to be answered in spring for the Longhorn football team? All that and more on the Inside Texas Podcast!

Texas' Mason slims down, heats up on defense
Austin American-Statesman
Justin Mason says he slipped through the cracks last season, although it's difficult to see how he could fit. While everybody watched Dexter Pittman reduce from 366 pounds to less than 300, Mason expanded from 185 to around 205. Eventually, when it was too late, they could tell by the way Mason played. Toward the end of his freshman season, he was running on fumes. Mason, now a sophomore, has been lighter and quicker this season after attending morning workouts during the summer with some of his teammates.

Barnes is writers' choice for Big 12 coach of the year
Austin American-Statesman
He led the Longhorns back to the top of the Big 12 even after losing national player of the year Kevin Durant to the NBA. Now, the awards keep coming Rick Barnes' way. The Texas basketball coach on Wednesday was named Associated Press Big 12 coach of the year for the second consecutive year, earning the votes of 14 of 19 reporters around the conference. Baylor's Scott Drew received the other five votes.

Men's team streaking into Big 12 tournament
San Antonio Express-News
Even with the best player in college basketball, Kevin Durant, Texas meagerly bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the second round last season. So, clearly, that meant near disaster for the Longhorns this season. No Durant, no hope. UT simply laughed at that notion, and streaked on by. The Longhorns earned a share of the Big 12 regular season title Sunday with a home victory against Oklahoma State.

Texas, Kansas, A&M have much at stake
San Antonio Express-News
A week before March Madness, let the March Malaise — otherwise known as the Big 12 tournament — begin. After 11 years, explanations for what it means or why it's played have yet to be fully developed. One thing, however, is now certain. Big 12 coaches will like it a whole lot better next year.

Augustin boosted with help from Texas exes
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Royal Ivey calls Texas point guard D.J. Augustin the head of the snake. "Where he goes, they go," the former Longhorn and veteran member of the 2003 Final Four team said. Ivey, now with the Milwaukee Bucks, has more than a passing interest in the Star-Telegram's Big 12 most valuable player in what has been to date a banner Big 12 season. He along with Texas' former national player of the year T.J. Ford of the Toronto Raptors spent countless hours with Augustin and other Longhorns this summer in the Cooley Pavilion practice gym working on their games, passing on the subtleties of their trade.

So many teams, so much to play for
Houston Chronicle
Texas coach Rick Barnes can't remember a year when the Big 12 tournament didn't have some sort of drama. The same goes for Kansas coach Bill Self. But in what has been considered one of the 12-year-old conference's best seasons, the drama and subplots could be at an all-time high as the Big 12 tournament tips off today at the sparkling new Sprint Center. Texas and Kansas, the co-champions of the regular season, are in contention for a No. 1 seed in next week's NCAA Tournament. And then there is a cluster of middle-of-the-pack teams that are either trying to strengthen or make their cases for a bid in the 65-team NCAA field. Never have the stakes been so high for so many teams.

Time to appreciate what Texas has accomplished
Kansas City Star
By facts and figures, the Texas teams of the last three seasons look eerily similar. Twelve or 13 conference victories and no big fluctuations in team scoring and rebounding statistics or shooting percentages. If you didn't know better, you'd think coach Rick Barnes had put together his best three-year span with a core group that's been molded into perhaps his best shot at a Final Four since the 2003 team led by T.J. Ford. Meet the core group, juniors A.J. Abrams and Connor Atchley. They are the only players common to all three teams that have little in common. That's why the accomplishments of this program and coaching staff must be saluted.

Women's hoops:

A turnaround for all time
Austin American-Statesman
Being a rookie coach in the Big 12, Gail Goestenkors isn't exactly a league historian yet. She tried, however, to sound like one to her Texas team at halftime Wednesday night, with the Longhorns trailing Baylor by 16 points before rallying for a remarkable 76-61 victory in the Big 12 women's basketball tournament.

Floor leader's tag is a perfect fit for Cortijo
Austin American-Statesman
In her initial team meeting with the Texas women's basketball players last April, Gail Goestenkors felt an immediate kinship, a bond with Carla Cortijo. The two just seemed to connect, and it was so gratifying because a coach has to have that special kind of relationship with her club's point guard and floor leader. Then, the meeting ended, and Cortijo gave the new Longhorn coach the jaw-dropping news. She was leaving.

Texas women's revival includes upset of Baylor
Dallas Morning News
The revival of Texas women's basketball started in earnest Wednesday night in a 76-61 victory over No. 9 Baylor at the Big 12 tournament. And it's got to scare the bejesus out of Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.

Thursday's Big 12 women's basketball tournament previews
Dallas Morning News

Longhorns storm past Lady Bears
San Antonio Express-News
Texas guard Carla Cortijo couldn't exactly put her finger on it, whatever took over her in the second half against Baylor on Wednesday. "Maybe some kind of fire," Cortijo said. "I haven't felt like that in a long time. A long time." For that matter, neither have the Longhorns, who pulled off the biggest comeback in Big 12 tournament history, overcoming a 16-point halftime deficit to down the second-seeded Lady Bears 76-61 at Municipal Auditorium.

2-faced UT's hard-to-beat side rocks Baylor
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Texas sophomore Carla Cortijo couldn't figure out what had gotten into her. All she knew was one shot after another was falling for her in the second half. It was the same story for Earnesia Williams, only for her, it was coming up with every loose ball within her reach. It added up to a historic comeback. The seventh-seeded Longhorns underwent a dramatic transformation at halftime that enabled them to pull off the biggest comeback in Big 12 tournament history, erasing a 16-point halftime deficit, and pulling away late for a 76-61 victory over second-seeded Baylor on Wednesday at Municipal Auditorium.

Horns ratchet up intensity after half to break down Lady Bears
Waco Tribune-Herald
With Baylor pounding Texas at halftime Wednesday night, Longhorns coach Gail Goestenkors pulled out her best come-back-or-die speech. "I said this is going to be the greatest comeback in the history of the Big 12 Tournament," Goestenkors said. "I didn't know it's not, but I thought it might be, so I sounded like I was telling the truth." Goestenkors' prophecy came true. Rallying from a 16-point halftime deficit, the Longhorns used an inspired defensive effort to dominate the second half en route to a 76-61 win over No. 8 Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals at Municipal Auditorium.

Texas women rally for upset win over Baylor
Kansas City Star
Both head coaches said it in different ways, with different expressions and different tones. But the gist was the same. The Big 12 women's quarterfinal between Texas and Baylor was hard to explain, yet easy to describe — a tale of two halves. Two very, very different halves. The tournament's upset theme continued with gusto Wednesday night when seventh-seeded Texas stunned second-seeded and No. 8 Baylor 76-61 after trailing by 16 points at halftime.


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