Longhorns hope to make it to the Big Dance for 13th straight season under Barnes

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Kansas forward Thomas Robinson’s role as dramatically increased since last year. A Big 12 and national player of the year candidate, Robinson’s 11.8 rebounds per game rank second in the country.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Rick Barnes has led Texas to the NCAA Tournament a dozen years in a row, but shaky play as of late could have the Longhorns on the outside looking in when the 64-team field is chosen in March.

“Dropping three in a row isn’t something we like to see. This is a program built on winning,” said center Clint Chapman.

Under the tutelage of Barnes, the Longhorns have also recorded 20 or more wins for the past 12 seasons. Currently, Texas sits at 13 wins, with just three of those victories coming in conference play. 

The Longhorns have an outside shot at keeping both of Barnes’ streaks alive, but Texas must first survive the gauntlet-type Big 12 conference schedule made possible by a 10-team league.

“As long as we’re making progress in the process, I’m happy with it,” Barnes said.

Missouri seniors making history

The eight-man Tiger senior class improved their overall home record to 63-3 with a recent 63-50 win over Texas Tech. Matt Pressey, Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe are among this group and have helped Missouri to four straight 20-win seasons after a 67-66 win over Texas.. The Tigers have now won 20 games for four consecutive seasons, just the fourth time in school history they’ve accomplished the feat.

Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie summed up the reason for the Tigers’ recent success after his team was defeated in Columbia, Mo.

“Missouri is a good team. They are a good team for a lot of reasons, one of which is experience. Out of the seven guys we saw, there [was] a sophomore and junior, but everyone else was a senior. 

They’ve been here a long time and done a great job. They can all pass, catch, dribble and shoot. Their floor spacing is as good as anyone in our league, probably anyone in the country. They can all make shots, and they can all beat you off the dribble, so it’s a very difficult team to defend.”

Jayhawks’ Robinson among national leaders in rebounding

After playing a backup role to the talented Morris twins for the past two seasons, junior forward Thomas Robinson has been able to grow both physically and mentally — something he uses to his advantage regularly.

“I feel that I know a little more as an older player,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s minutes have jumped from averaging just under 15 minutes last season to over 30 minutes per game this year. Last year, Robinson averaged just seven points and six rebounds, but this year he’s averaging 17.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. His rebounding average is the second highest total in the nation and his improved play is a big reason the Jayhawks find themselves atop the Big 12 rankings once again. Robinson is also shooting over 50 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range.

Printed on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 as: Texas' NCAA tourney chances fading