Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s January 25th: 25 down, 340 to go.
And 46 till the start of the Big 12 men’s tournament.
YESTERDAY: We experienced the Icepacolypse here in Austin. But it really turned out to be more of an Over-hypealolypse. Rafael Nadal swept Roger Federer out of the Australian Open semifinals. Texas lost its women’s golf coach. Jordan Spieth, paired with Tiger Woods, shot 63 and took the lead at the Farmers Insurance Open. Carmelo Anthony put up 62 against the Bobcats.
TODAY: The Texas men play at Baylor (12:45 p.m., KBVO, 1300, 98.1). The women host West Virginia (3 p.m., Erwin Center, Longhorn Network). Li Na beat Dominika Cibulkova in the Australian Open women’s final. And Mike Davis plays in the Senior Bowl (2 p.m., NFL Network).
TOMORROW: It’s Nadal vs. Stan Wawrinka (the No. 8 seed) in the Australian Open men’s final (2:30 a.m., ESPN). And our own Kirk Bohls will reveal his early look at next season’s Top 25 college football teams.
Jan. 25 has a sports history. On this date, Serena Williams beat sister Venus Williams for the Australian Open women’s title, making her the fifth woman in tennis history to win all four Grand Slams (2003); the Broncos beat the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII (1998); David Beckham got engaged to Victoria “Posh Spice” Adams (1998); Michael Jordan scored his 10,000th NBA point — in his fifth season (1989); Phil Simms earned MVP honors in the Giants’ 39-20 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI (1987); the Raiders beat the Eagles in Super Bowl XV, the tie-a-yellow-ribbon game (1981); and NBA rookie Wilt Chamberlain had 58 points and 42 rebounds against Detroit (1960).
Today’s sports birthdays: 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (29), Chargers running back Danny Woodhead (29). Other birthday of note: Alicia Keys (33). Lou Groza, the great college and NFL kicker for whom college football’s annual place kicking award is named, also was born on Jan. 25. Which leads us to today’s trivia question:
TODAY’S TRIVIA: What was Groza’s nickname? (Answer is below.)
TODAY’S LEAD: Texas basketball.
Can the Texas men win a third straight game against a ranked opponent?
It’s never happened before.
The Horns, coming off wins over nationally ranked Iowa State (No. 8) and Kansas State (No. 22), get No. 24 Baylor today in Waco.
Texas (15-4, 4-2) has won four straight after starting conference play in an 0-2 hole. In those four wins, the Horns have combined three important factors — defense and free throw shooting — to get them by. Opponents have shot only 41 percent in that span, including only 27.5 percent from 3-point range. At the free throw line, Texas has shot nearly 76 percent.
That combo will win you games.
Keep an eye on sophomore center Cameron Ridley, who’s been playing at a high level. In his last three games, Ridley’s averaged 15.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. Sophomore guard Javan Felix is averaging 17.2 points in Big 12 games, a stark improvement from his 10.3 average before conference play began.
Meanwhile, Baylor’s 7-1 sophomore center, Isaiah Austin, leads the Big 12 in blocks (2.8 a game), so his battle with the 6-9 Ridley will be fun to watch. The Bears are shooting 40.1 percent from 3-point range, fueled by shooters Gary Franklin and Brady Heslip.
No one’s played Texas more than Baylor — 240 all-time games so far. The Horns lead the series, 158-82, including a 27-7 mark during the Rick Barnes era and a 66-48 record in games played in Waco.
Our own Brian Davis advanced today’s game with a feature on 6-1 freshman point guard Isaiah Taylor — the other Isaiah in today’s game. The Waco Tribune-Herald, meanwhile, wrote about the hot-shooting Heslip, who’s coming off a 19-point, nine 3-pointers night against Kansas on Monday.
So, what’s being written out there about the Longhorns?
Friday was a busy day for Longhorns coverage. The baseball team held its first practice of the spring, and coach Augie Garrido made headlines by addressing that familiar problem that’s dragged down other high-profile UT programs: Entitlement. “The standard for Texas baseball hasn’t been met in the last two years,” Garrido told our own Brian Davis. “It isn’t acceptable, and we know that.” Here’s our story. Also Friday, Texas lost its women’s golf coach; Martha Richards, who has led UT to one Big 12 title and five NCAA appearances, informed women’s AD Chris Plonsky on Wednesday night that she’s stepping down after this season, for health reasons. We spoke to Richards on Friday about it.
And the Texas men aren’t the only ones playing a basketball game today. The women host West Virginia, and our own Rick Cantu explored the waning attendance numbers at the Erwin Center. Why aren’t fans going to games? Texas got a home crowd (paid attendance) of only 3,909 for the Stanford game, only 2,625 for Kansas and 2,994 for Kansas State. Its biggest home crowd had been 6,111, against Oklahoma. But about 4,000 of those were elementary school kids who got a free ticket. Here’s our story.
AROUND THE BIG 12: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram advanced today’s Kansas-TCU men’s game with a look at streaks — KU’s won five straight, including four in a row vs. ranked teams, while TCU’s still searching for that first conference win. And optimism abounds around TCU baseball, which also opened up spring practices Friday. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal also wrote about baseball, and how Texas Tech seems happy flying under the radar.
COUNTDOWN TO SIGNING DAY: 11 DAYS. This could be a busy next couple of days on the recruiting front, as several Longhorns targets continue to be in the mix.
Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on, thanks to updates from various outlets out there. Thank you, Max Olson (@max_olson) of ESPN.com, Jeff Howe of 247Sports (@JeffHowe247) and Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com (@skahnjr):
New defensive coordinator Vance Bedford returned to Austin after spending this week on the road, recruiting in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, East Texas and West Texas. Texas A&M commitment Nick Harvey, a 4-star athlete from Richmond Travis who’ll probably play cornerback in college, is believed to be on campus this weekend, listening to the Longhorns’ pitch. Otaro Alaka, a 4-star outside linebacker from Houston Cypress Falls who’s been committed to Texas since last April, is expected to make his final choice between Texas and Texas A&M soon; both Charlie Strong and Kevin Sumlin visited his home on Thursday. And 4-star safety John Bonney of Houston Lamar, who pledged to Texas in September, takes his official visit to Baylor this weekend.
Texas has 22 commitments for its 2014 class — eight 4-stars, 14 3-stars.
MACKTWEETS: Charting Mack’s full-force foray into the land of Twitter (@UT_MackBrown). Mack’s Friday tweet:
First tweet: “The most wasted day is that on which one has not laughed.” Nicolas Chamfort-Let’s have a Happy Friday. Thank Goodness it’s Friday!
And he’s been busy on Saturday, too:
First tweet: Congrats on beating ISU & the thriller vs K-St Rick B & Texas BB. Good luck in Waco today. You guys are on a roll.
Second tweet: Watch Mike Davis play in the Senior Bowl today @ 2:00 Central on the NFL net. Appreciate all he did for the Horns. Good luck in the Pros.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES: What else is going on around UT athletics?
Football: Former offensive line coach Stacy Searels, who wasn’t retained by Strong, has been hired by Virginia Tech.
Men’s basketball: The Horns play at Baylor today.
Women’s basketball: The Horns host West Virginia.
Men’s and women’s swimming: Friday’s dual meet with TCU was called off because of the weather. Maybe the ice froze at the Jamail Texas Swim Center? Either way, it won’t be rescheduled; Texas closes out its dual meet season next weekend, at Arizona.
Men’s tennis: The Horns, ranked No. 20, plays in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend this weekend, in Nashville. Texas has won three straight matches. The Horns face No. 15 Vanderbilt today and either No. 23 LSU or No. 19 Wake Forest on Sunday.
CLIFF CLAVIN’S LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS: Impress your friends. Three things of note that have happened on Jan. 25:
On Jan. 25, 2004: NASA’s rover Opportunity landed on Mars, six months after it was launched. Eight years later, it’s still going strong.
On Jan. 25, 1971: Charles Manson, along with three of his female “family” members, were found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders.
On Jan. 25, 1961: The very first live presidential TV news conference was aired, only five days after John F. Kennedy’s famous inaugural address.
TODAY’S TRIVIA ANSWER: Lou Groza’s nickname? “The Toe,” as in Lou “The Toe” Groza.
TODAY’S LITTLE NUMBER: 7. The number of years Martha Richards has coached UT womens’ golf. She’s stepping down at the end of the year.
TODAY’S BIGGER NUMBER: 9. Birdies shot Friday by Jordan Spieth. That’s a career high. He’s leading the Farmers Insurance Open heading into today’s third round (2 p.m., CBS).
TODAY’S BIG NUMBER: 22. High school commitments (so far) for Texas.
OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.
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