411OnTheForty: Men’s, women’s basketball move up in AP rankings

28 Dec By
The Texas men's basketball team climbed to No. 8 in the newest Associated Press ranking, its highest during Shaka Smart's tenure as the Longhorns' head coach, without playing a game last week (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

AUSTIN, Texas — In a week following the short winter break, the Texas men's and women's basketball teams earned a raise from the Associated Press voters.

Despite not playing a single game this past week, a series of losses by other teams within the top 10 pushed the men into the No. 8 slot, a jump of two spots from last week's No. 10 ranking and the new highest ranking in the Shaka Smart era.

That sets up a must-see showdown in Lawrence, Kansas, for Saturday morning with the No. 3 Kansas Jayahawks hosting the Longhorns. With tip-off coming at 11 a.m. on ESPN2, it will be the Horns' first big test of Big 12 play.

The Big 12 has the most representatives in the top 10, with Baylor sitting at No. 2, Kansas right behind at No. 3, Texas at No. 8 and West Virginia having dropped to No. 9. Texas Tech also jumped two spots to No. 13.

On the women's side, a conference-opening win at Kansas State last Monday moved head coah Vic Schaefer's squad up one spot to No. 19, making it five consecutive weeks in which Texas has climbed in the rankings. Other than Texas, No. 7 Baylor was the only other ranked Big 12 team.

Texas squares off with Lamar at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a non-conference battle in Austin before the conference slate resumes Sunday against Iowa State at home. The Cyclones received 12 votes in this week's AP poll.

Schaefer honored
Schaefer was also named ESPNW's Coach of the Week following a narrow 10-point road win at Kansas State. Under his short tenure so far on the Forty Acres, his emphasis on defense has shown itself with the Horns ranked No. 3 in the country in turnover margin (+10.4) and No. 5 in turnovers forced (24.9 per game).

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. Twitter: @ZayasRiley