Rick Barnes has had plenty of success with Texas, but his latest accomplishment is new territory for the 10th-year coach.
After going undefeated in the month of February with the longest single-season conference win streak under Barnes, the fifth-ranked Longhorns look to carry their success into March as they visit Big 12 rival Texas Tech on Saturday in search of their ninth straight win.
Texas (24-4, 11-2) lost to archrival Texas A&M in its last game of January, but went 8-0 the following month while notching wins over then-No. 25 Baylor and then-No. 3 Kansas and getting revenge against then-No. 22 A&M.
The Longhorns hadn’t gone undefeated in February since they were 8-0 in that month during the 1962-63 season. The eight-game conference win streak is their longest in a single season under Barnes, who has won at least 20 games in each season since Texas went 19-13 in his first year at the helm.
Barnes’ team capped its undefeated month by beating Kansas State 74-65 on Monday. The Longhorns held the Wildcats to a season-low 32.8 percent shooting from the field while handing them their first home conference loss of the season.
With three games remaining before the Big 12 tournament, the Longhorns are one win shy of their regular-season record - set during the 2005-06 season.
“We are just taking every game as it is,” said shooting guard A.J. Abrams, who went 4-for-7 from behind the arc on Monday to set a Texas record with the 249th 3-pointer of his three-season career. “I don’t think anyone is thinking about going undefeated or anything like that. We are just trying to play Texas basketball everyday.”
Sophomore point guard D.J. Augustin had 24 points and five assists while matching a career high with four steals Monday. He’s shooting 55.3 percent (26-for-47) from the field in his last three games after connecting on only 22.1 percent (15-for-68) of his shots in his previous five games.
“D.J. was great, but then D.J.’s always great,” Barnes said.
Barnes and the Longhorns will try to extend their current streak by continuing their dominance of the Red Raiders (15-12, 6-7), who have lost 19 of 21 games in the series since Barnes took over at Texas.
Texas Tech is 3-4 since Hall of Fame coach Bob Knight resigned and left the program in the hands of his son, Pat. Pat Knight suffered his first double-digit defeat on Wednesday, when the Red Raiders shot 32.8 percent from the field in a 98-54 loss to Texas A&M. Texas Tech hadn’t given up that many points since a 108-81 loss at then-No. 2 Kansas on Feb. 9, 2002.
“I want to apologize to our fans because we just did not compete tonight,” Knight said. “That’s the bottom line. I hate to lose, but I can at least take getting beat if we compete. We didn’t compete from the tip to the end. I don’t even count the second half. The game was over at halftime. They just blew us out of the water.”
Texas Tech has scored fewer points only once this season, when it lost 73-47 at Texas on Jan. 26. Augustin and Abrams had 19 and 17 points, respectively, in that game - the Longhorns’ sixth straight win in the series.