Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s February 1st — 32 down, 333 to go. And 6 till the Olympic opening ceremonies
YESTERDAY: Kevin Durant‘s streak stopped at 12. Roger Goodell hinted at the possibility of playoff expansion, free healthcare for life for players, and the use of medicinal marijuana as a pain reliever during his annual State of the NFL speech. And the Rangers’ Michael Young bid adieu to baseball.
TODAY: No. 25 Texas hosts No. 6 Kansas (3 p.m., Erwin Center, ESPN, 1300, 98.1). The Texas women play No. 7 Baylor, in Waco (6:30 p.m.) The annual UT alumni baseball game is played at the Disch at noon. NBA commish David Stern steps down, after 30 years.
TOMORROW: Broncos vs. Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVIII (5:30 p.m., FOX).
Feb. 1 has a sports history. On this date, the Steelers beat the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII (2009) and the Patriots beat the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004) — which also was the night of the infamous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at Reliant Stadium (2004); David Stern — who’s retiring today — became NBA commissioner (1984) on the same day that the Knicks’ Bernard King scored 50 points in Dallas for the second game in a row (1984); and Vince Lombardi resigned as Packers coach (1968).
Last year on Feb. 1, it was revealed that Texas had disciplined assistant coach Major Applewhite back in 2009 for “inappropriate consensual behavior” with a student during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl activities.
Today’s sports birthdays: poker savant Phil Ivey (38), former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Wade Wilson (55). Other notables: Lisa Marie Presley (46) and SNL founding father Garrett Morris (77).
TODAY’S TRIVIA: Vince Lombardi resigned as Packers head coach on Feb. 1, 1968 to become Green Bay’s general manager. But one year later, he left the Packers to become head coach of what team? (Answer is below.)
TODAY’S LEAD: COLLEGE BASKETBALL. It’s been awhile, but today’s Texas-Kansas men’s game should deliver a true big-game atmosphere to the Erwin Center. It’s a big game. Especially big for the Longhorns.
Can Texas make it four in a row vs. ranked teams? Texas has never faced four straight Top 25 teams before.
Texas has been getting it done with defense. In this recent five-game winning streak, the Horns have held opponents to 39.2 percent shooting from the field and only 66.6 points a game.
Matchup to watch: Texas center Cameron Ridley vs. Kansas’ Joel Embiid. Kansas has won the rebounding battle in 17 of its 20 games so far. Texas, meanwhile, ranks second in the Big 12 in offensive rebounds, at nearly 14 a game. Tarik Black, the Jayhawks’ senior forward who’s missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, is expected to play today.
Texas is a 4-point underdog.
Kansas leads the all-time series, 22-7. That includes a 6-5 mark at the Erwin Center.
What would a Texas win mean?
It would give the Longhorns their signature win. North Carolina (13-7, 3-4) has fallen off. Baylor (13-7, 1-6) even further. Iowa State was No. 8 when Texas beat the Cyclones on Jan. 18, but the Cyclones, though 15-4, still don’t have a winning record in the Big 12. Kansas would be a huge skin.
It would put Texas (16-4, 5-2) right in the thick of the Big 12 race. It would move Kansas to 7-1 in league play and improve Texas to 6-2, one game back. Second-place Oklahoma, at 6-2, has a tough matchup today at Iowa State.
It would be only the second time in the last 17 years that a team has beaten four ranked teams in a row. The other team? Kansas, this season.
It would move Texas’ record to 17-4, which would be its best start after 21 games since 2010-11, when the Longhorns were 18-3.
It would give Texas 17 wins in its first 21 games for the seventh time in the Rick Barnes era — Texas started 18-3 in 2005-06, 2009-10 and 2010-11, and started 17-4 in 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2007-08.
It would be, well, just monumental for the Longhorns, our own Cedric Golden wrote. Cedric explored the Ridley-Embiid matchup, but so did the Kansas City Star — from Embiid’s side of things in a nice profile of the Jayhawks’ 7-foot freshman. It’s a good read on one of the Jayhawks’ best players. Oh, and the Jayhawks know what they’re walking into, wrote Tom Keegan of the Tulsa Journal-World, citing a combination of big game, raucous crowd and a sense of desperation in Barnes’ program.
AROUND THE BIG 12: The Texas men play at Kansas State next Saturday, and when they do, notice that K-State’s Will Spradling isn’t wearing a T-shirt under his jersey. Significance? Perhaps it’s coincidence, but Spradling has been playing lights out in the two weeks since the NCAA pooh-poohed Spradling’s favorite T-shirt. Here’s that story, from the Kansas City Star. As mentioned earlier, Oklahoma plays a big game today at Iowa State. In recent years, that would mean a nearly automatic loss — OU was 5-29 in Big 12 road games the past four years — but this season has been a different story when playing away from home, the Daily Oklahoman explored. The paper also introduced us to a future Oklahoma quarterback in Justice Hansen, the son of former OU baseball standout Dusty Hansen who’s following in his dad’s footsteps. Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News wrote on the curious college coaching pit stop shared by the Broncos’ John Fox and the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll: Iowa State. The Baylor men, with five straight Big 12 losses, are really bleeding, wrote the Waco Tribune-Herald.
COUNTDOWN TO SIGNING DAY: 4 DAYS. A quick sweep of what’s going on, thanks to updates from our own Dave Behr (@DaveBehrAAS) as well as various sites and tweets out there. Tip of the cap to our old Hookem.com friends at 247Sports, Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247) and Blake Munroe (@247Blake), and to ESPN.com’s Gerry Hamilton (@HamiltonESPN).
Texas has 21 commitments. Since Charlie Strong was hired, the Longhorns have lost five pledges and have gained three.
Our final Fabulous 55 list of the state’s top recruits appeared in today’s paper, but also lives online. We’ll run the Fab 55 in Sunday’s paper, when we’ll also break down who’s winning the state of Texas when it comes to getting the top recruits.
Poona Ford, the defensive tackle from South Carolina that may end up following Strong from Louisville to Texas, is visiting Missouri this weekend. He’s expected to make his announcement on signing day. But before he flew out, he and his family met with Strong early Friday morning. Ryan Newsome, a 2015 receiver from Aledo, visited with the Longhorns this week and is expected to attend Texas’ junior day on Feb. 22. And, Hamilton reports, Newsome’s expected to be offered while he’s in Austin. Emanuel Porter, the former TCU pledge from Dallas Lincoln who switched to Texas and has since switched back to TCU, will not visit Texas this weekend after all. Why? Because he instead will get a home visit from LSU. Hays offensive lineman Connor Lanfear, a Texas pledge for 2015, is visiting Oklahoma this weekend and plans on attending their junior day.
Today, our own Suzanne Halliburton took a look back at our 2009 Fab 55. There were hits and misses, just like every year. But it was a pivotal recruiting year for Texas, which handed its quarterbacking torch to Lake Travis’ Garrett Gilbert, the Gatorade national player of the year and top quarterback prospect in the country.
Among the Top 10 hits: No. 4 Mason Walters (51 straight starts at Texas), No. 5 Alex Okafor (Texas All-American), No. 8 Chris Whaley (47 career games at Texas).
Among the Top 10 misses: No. 1 Garrett Gilbert (didn’t fit in at Texas, ended up starting 23 games for SMU).
Among the Top 10 duds: No. 6 Kevin Brent (Injury issues at Oklahoma, left the team in 2011), No. 9 Marcus Davis (ran into legal woes at UT, transferred to Oregon, ended up leaving the Ducks’ program).
Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram also took a stroll down the 2009 memory lane, re-ranking that year’s Big 12 classes, knowing what we know now. Baylor and Texas Tech come out on top of his list. Texas was fifth.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES: What’s going on around UT athletics?
Football: Strong’s signing day press conference is at 2 p.m. Wednesday (Longhorn Network). Spring practice opens March 18. The Orange-White Game is April 19 (1 p.m., LHN).
Men’s basketball: No. 25 Texas hosts No. 6 Kansas today (3 p.m., ESPN, 1300, 98.1). It’s a sellout.
Women’s basketball: Texas plays at No. 7 Baylor today (6:30 p.m., FSSW, 1300). We advanced today’s game with a look at Baylor in the post-Brittney Griner era. You’d think the Bears would be an easier challenge without her, but with high-scoring Odyssey Sims still there, it’s been business as usual on the court. The Waco Tribune-Herald took a look back at Texas coach Karen Aston‘s time spent as Kim Mulkey‘s assistant.
Baseball: The annual alumni game is today (noon, Disch-Falk Field). Gates open at 9:30 a.m. Autographs till 11. Among the alumni expected to play are Huston Street, Drew Stubbs, Taylor Teagarden, Jordan Danks, Jordan Etier, Taylor Jungmann, Corey Knebel, Chance Ruffin and Sam Stafford. Softball: Senior shortstop Taylor Thom was named to the top 50 watch list for the USA Softball’s national player of the year award. Her 66 RBIs set a school single-season record last year, and on the all-time list, she ranks fourth in RBIs (135), seventh in doubles (37), eighth in runs scored (122), ninth in home runs (28) and is tied for 10th in stolen bases (41). Other Big 12ers on the watch list are Baylor pitcher Whitney Canion, and Oklahoma infielders Lauren Chamberlain and Shelby Pendley. The list of 50 will be narrowed to 25 on April 9.
Men’s track: Shot-putter Ryan Crouser is the Big 12’s co-track athlete of the week. He won last Saturday’s Cherry and Silver Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque with a personal-best toss of 67 feet, the second-best mark in the country and more than five feet longer than the rest of the field. It was the second best indoor toss in UT history.
Women’s track: No. 2 Texas got off to a strong start Friday at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, the first day headlined by the distance medley relay (Marielle Hall, Nia Dorner, Beth Hamilton and Sara Sutherland), which posted the fourth-best time in the nation and the fifth-best in school history (11:22.16). Shanay Briscoe was fifth in the pentathlon and Chris Irvin, a redshirt freshman, is in fourth after the opening day of the heptathlon. The meet concludes today.
Men’s swimming/diving: No. 3 Texas leads No. 5 Arizona after Friday’s start of the two-day dual meet in Tucson, 121-65. The Longhorns won eight events — six swimming, two diving (John Martens in the 400 IM, Jack Conger in the 200 back, Clay Youngquist in the 100 free, Tripp Cooper in the 100 butterfly, Sam Lewis in the 500 free, Will Chandler in the 1-meter diving, Michael Hixon in the 3-meter diving, and the 400 medley of Kip Darmody, Will Licon, Conger and John Murray). Today’s events start at 11 a.m. Hixon and Murphy Bromberg and former UT swimmer Troy Dumais have been invited to compete in the FINA Diving World Series in late May and early June.
Women’s swimming/diving: No. 6 Texas leads No. 10 Arizona after Friday’s start of the two-day dual meet in Tucson, 105-81. Maren Taylor swept her 1- and 3-meter diving events and Madisyn Cox (400 IM), Gretchen Jaques (200 breast) and the 400 medley (Lily Moldenhauer, Jaques, Ellen Lobb and Alex Hooper) all won swimming golds. Today’s events start at 11 a.m.
Women’s tennis: No. 17 Texas fell to No. 1 Stanford in a dual match Friday at Penick-Allison, 6-1. Freshman Ratnika Batra beat Stanford’s Caroline Doyle, who’s ranked 34th in the country, in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3. But that was Texas’ lone singles win in six matches.
ON FEB. 1 …
2003: The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry, killing all seven astronauts on board.
2002: Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who’d been kidnapped Jan. 23 in Pakistan, was beheaded.
1865: President Lincoln signed the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery.
1861: Texas seceded from the United States.
TODAY’S TRIVIA ANSWER: After leaving the Packers in 1969, Vince Lombardi became head coach of the Washington Redskins. He went 7-5-2, the Skins’ first winning season in 14 years.
TODAY’S LITTLE NUMBER: 0. Number of Texas exes in this year’s Winter Olympics, which start next Friday (Thursday, technically).
TODAY’S BIGGER NUMBER: 2. Number of five-star recruits signed by Texas in 2009 — Garrett Gilbert, Alex Okafor.
TODAY’S BIG NUMBER: 12. Number of consecutive games that Kevin Durant had scored 30 or more points — until Friday night. Durant scored 26 points, but left the game with 1:15 left in the third period because it was a blowout win. Thunder 120, Nets 95. Said one courtside fan, interviewed by ESPN: “Even better in person than on television. You just can’t imagine the speed of his release, and his basketball intelligence keeps showing up in little ways. Just an amazing player.” That fan? Bill Clinton.
OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.
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