Leader Of The Pack: Hoops Horns At No. 4

Texas (10-2) is ranked No. 4 in both the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches basketball polls released Monday, leading the pack of six Big 12 teams that are nationally ranked in at least one of the major ratings services

Duke remains atop the college basketball world, but the Horns (for now) are navigating new waters as the Big 12’s highest ranked squad. In both polls, Oklahoma (10-3) is listed at No. 5, followed by No. 11 Missouri (10-2), No. 12 Kansas (10-3) and No. 24 Oklahoma State (13-1). Texas Tech (10-2) is No. 25 in the coaches poll.

Before this season, Texas had only made three appearances in the AP Top 10 (No. 6, 1978-79 preseason poll; No. 7, Jan. 19, 1982; No. 5, Jan. 26, 1982). This year alone, Texas has been ranked in the AP Top 10 for the first 10 weeks of the season.

Oklahoma State edged the Sooners, 48-46, at Stillwater Monday while Missouri lost at Syracuse, 76-69.

But is Texas really that good? When asked last week, Rick Barnes responded benignly with the "on any given night" coach-speak, adding that parity is such in college hoops that at least one unranked dark horse typically makes one heckuva run into the NCAAs come March.

Monday, the fifth-year UT head coach made no bones about where he wants his team to finish.

"The thing that’s most important to me is I hope we’re the team that wins the last game (national championship)," Barnes said. "Before I’m done, that’s the one thing I’d like."

Texas is 1-0 in league play, after winning its conference home opener Saturday against Iowa State, 70-50. The Horns first Big 12 road trip is at Baylor, Wednesday, in an ESPN+ televised game (8 p.m. CST).

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