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HOUSTON -- The Texas Longhorns will face twin seven-footers Brook and Robin Lopez on Friday, but the Horns will also have the help of a very Burnt Orange Reliant Stadium. Question is, how much will it help?

When the Texas Longhorns (30-6) and the Stanford Cardinal (28-7) tip-off at 6:27 p.m. on Friday, Reliant Stadium will be full of fans in Burnt Orange, there to cheer on the Horns. But how much will the atmosphere really matter?

Well, depends on who you ask.

-If you ask the Texas players, yes, and it's going to be a positive for the Longhorns.

The Horns did not have a friendly atmosphere to work with for the first and second rounds in Little Rock, thanks primarily to the number of Arkansas fans that made the trip out to Alltel Arena to boo the Longhorns. Friday's game, and Sunday's if Texas is able to advance, will be a complete 180 in terms of environment.

"We're happy to be back and be in Houston," said Texas point guard D.J. Augustin. "A lot of the guys (on our team) are from Texas. We're just happy to be back and play in front of a lot of Longhorn fans. We have not had that in the tournament so far, so it's going to be good to have that."

Augustin acknowledged that this arrangement might not have occurred if Texas had earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which would have likely sent the Horns to the Midwest Regional in Detroit.

"We played for a No. 1 seed, but we're happy we got a second seed," said Augustin. "It's great playing in front of a lot of Texas fans and it's going to give us some kind of home court advantage and we just have to play hard and play with intensity."

-If you ask the Stanford players, yes, and it's going to be a positive for the Cardinal.

"We've played in a lot of tough arenas in the Pac-10 and I think we can almost feed off that," said Stanford senior forward Taj Finger. "You know, when your back's against the wall, you almost play better."

Both of Stanford's Twin Towers agree.

Robin Lopez, the big-haired defensive specialist, said facing tough environments in the NCAA Tournament is old-hat for he and his teammates, who faced Louisville in Lexington, Ken. in the first round of last year's tournament (Louisville won, 78-58).

"It's going to show how much we learned last year against Louisville. Louisville didn't have to travel far, just like Texas fans aren't going to have to travel too far. So, we'll see how far we can go," said Robin.

Brook Lopez, the short-haired offensive scorer, said he's chomping at the bit to play in the eclectic atmosphere Friday's game should provide.

"In my opinion, it's kind of what the NCAA Tournament is all about. I guess we were kind of underdogs in this situation, according to the fans," said Brook. "It will be an exciting experience and a good feeling going in the there."

-If you ask the coaches, no.

"That's not a concern," said Stanford head coach Trent Johnson. "The people in the stands don't play. The concern for us is the guys on the floor."

Texas head coach Rick Barnes echoed Johnson's statements and pointed out that it will be difficult for the fans to keep the atmosphere going, given the limitations of the NCAA Tournament.

"With the court so far from the fans and the two and half minute timeouts because of commercials and whatnot, it's hard to maintain momentum," said Barnes. "There's probably been more made about (the atmosphere) than what should be. It goes back to what's between the lines."

Regardless of how much of an affect the number of Texas fans has on the outcome, they will likely be out in force when the Longhorns take on Stanford Friday night in the Sweet 16.

Rick Barnes Offers John Calipari a Job

Barnes is in Houston with some old friends.

Memphis head coach John Calipari, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo and Barnes have been close friends ever since the 1970s and have "grown up together" in the coaching profession, as Barnes put it.

On Thursday, when Calipari was conducting his press conference, Barnes showed up to ask a question of his own. Barnes said he needed some help for his shooting clinic.

Calipari wittily responded, "You need my help with your point guard air-balling a free throw," referencing Augustin's missed foul shot near the end of Texas' win over Miami.

When asked if Calipari had accepted the job offer, Barnes smiled and said, "Not yet."

Trent Johnson Willing to Get Ejected Again

The Stanford head coach was tossed from his team's win over Marquette and said on Thursday that if it produces the same result for his team on Friday, he'll gladly get thrown out again.

"If we get off to a bad start, I'm going to get ejected again so we can win the game," said Johnson.

The assembled reporters laughed. Johnson did not.

"It's not a joke. It's true," said Johnson. "I love winning, so whatever it takes."

A manager intentionally getting himself thrown out to inspire his team is a common practice in baseball, but Johnson appears willing to apply the technique to the hardwood as well.

Gary Johnson Ready to Go

According to Barnes, the Texas freshman forward is ready to play against Stanford and said that getting him in against Miami, if only for six minutes, helped.

"I think it's probably important, the fact that he was able to play," said Barnes. "He is still young in terms of experience in this tournament. We are going to need him, as we are going to need the other post players, but I would like to think that that experience is going to help him a little bit."

Johnson had missed Texas' opening round win over Austin Peay with a lower leg strain, but will play against Stanford on Friday.

Also see: Members Only: Thursday Basketball Practice Breakdown

For a breakdown of Stanford, see: Stanford 101


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