NCAA Tournament 2001 - Texas has to foucs on game, not seed


Texas has to foucs on game, not seed

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas isn't angry anymore.

Two days after his disgust at being a No. 6 seed in the South Regional, Longhorns coach Rick Barnes was much calmer about his team's draw on Tuesday.

If you can't be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, Barnes said, it's all a wash anyway.

"That's exactly what I told my team," Barnes said. "This time of year from three on down, you've got to play, man. You've got to play."

Barnes and his players spoke much differently on Sunday when the NCAA tournament brackets were announced. The players said it was a matter of respect and them not getting any. Barnes questioned the NCAA's closed-door selection policy.

The Longhorns (25-8) expected that a tough regular season schedule, which included games against No. 1 seeds Duke (a loss) and Illinois (a win), a second-place finish in the Big 12 and an RPI rating of nine would put them as high as a No. 4 seed.

Instead, Texas found itself going to the South Regional in New Orleans to play No. 11 Temple (21-12), the Atlantic 10 tournament champion and a team no one likes to meet in the postseason.

The Longhorns practiced on Tuesday and the hard feelings had started to fade, said junior forward Chris Owens.

"The mission right now is to beat Temple," he said.

The Owls and coach John Chaney's famous matchup zone defense create their own problems for a team that has struggled at times to put the ball in the basket.

Although Texas' offense had come on strong late in the season, the Longhorns struggled badly in the second half of a 54-45 loss to Oklahoma on Sunday in the Big 12 tournament title game. Texas made just three field goals during the final 20 minutes against the Sooners.

Texas can't shy away from attacking Temple's zone defense, Owens said.

"Teams really psyche themselves out," against Temple, Owens said. "You've got to attack it instead of letting it attack you."

Good defenses try to force teams into taking bad shots, said Barnes, whose team also has a reputation for hard-nosed play in protecting its basket. Texas must be patient when looking for a good shot against the Owls.

"I think most teams that play really good defense, what they want is a team to take an early, quick, bad shot. I think Temple's no different. I think it's the same with our defense," Barnes said.

The Longhorns can't rely solely on perimeter shooting but must continue to get the ball to Owens, a second-team All-Big 12 selection who averaged 14.4 points and eight rebounds per game.

"I think," Barnes said. "It's a little bit like fool's gold if you think you're going to stand out there and knock down a bunch of 3s."

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