Longhorns on a roll in Big 12 with Sooners rolling in Print
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Friday, 22 February 2008 12:54
NCAAB Headline News


 AUSTIN (AP) -His team is on a roll now, but when Texas coach Rick Barnes looks back at a midseason slump, he partly blames himself.
``I coached them mad,'' Barnes said. ``When you coach mad, nothing good happens.''
Nothing but good things have been happening lately for the No. 7 Longhorns. Texas (22-4, 9-2) has won six in a row and is tied for first in the Big 12 heading into Saturday's game against rival Oklahoma (18-8, 6-5).
The Longhorns were one of the surprise teams in the country through the first six weeks of the season. Even without Kevin Durant, last season's all-everything freshman who left for the NBA, the Longhorns started with 11 straight wins, including a pair of impressive victories over No. 2 Tennessee and No. 6 UCLA.
Texas dropped consecutive games to Michigan State and Wisconsin, then hit bottom at the start of the Big 12 with a blowout loss at Missouri.
M, and Barnes was publicly ripping his team and some players individually. He admits he had a hard time letting go of the loss at Missouri, where he felt the Longhorns stood around watching the Tigers pile up 97 points.
``Nothing's ever good enough,'' Barnes said. ``It was not as much them as it was me, I'm the one that needed to let go and they handled it, which I appreciate.''
The coach had to find a way to back off, yet still whip his team into shape defensively. Sophomore guard Justin Mason, who was among Barnes' early targets for criticism, said the players talked among themselves about what had to be done.
M loss, we had a little get-together,'' Mason said. ``Maybe if we had been playing like this in the first place he would have never got mad and frustrated at us. ... When we beat Tennessee and UCLA, he's always said that he's seen it all before. He's been coaching forever, so he's seen teams go on 10-game winning streaks and go on 10-game losing streaks.''
It's the current winning streak that has Texas in the hunt for the Big 12 championship and has Longhorn fans calculating whether they can get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
With their victory over No. 4 Kansas during the streak, Texas now has wins over three of the top six teams in the country and looks like a team rounding into shape at the right time.
M with 27 points and nine assists. Mason, who all but disappeared offensively for a stretch of the season, is averaging eight points and eight rebounds the last three games.
M.
Texas has five games left on the Big 12 schedule, four against teams the Longhorns have already defeated. Texas beat Oklahoma 64-54 on Feb. 6 when guard A.J. Abrams hit four 3-pointers and scored 22 points.
The Longhorns have won four in a row over the Sooners.
 

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