Know Your Foe: Texas Longhorns


After suffering their first defeat of the season at the hands of Kansas State, the Missouri Tigers recovered to defeat Iowa State 76-69 in Ames on Jan. 11. The Tigers will now play their next two games back at Mizzou Arena, the first coming this afternoon against the Texas Longhorns. Both teams are off to 2-1 starts in Big 12 play, with Texas coming off a 61-51 win over rival Texas A&M in Austin. Texas is one of the most recognizable schools in the country, so it is a given that Mizzou fans know about them. Nevertheless, lets get to know them even better.

The University of Texas at Austin was officially founded in 1883 with the opening of what is now known as the Old Main Building. The main campus began as a 40-acre plot of land set aside in Austin, the capital of Texas, by the Congress of Texas back in 1839. Congress had originally granted fifty leagues of land to build two universities, but several delays involving land grants and economic issues, the Civil War, and the opening of Texas A&M University in 1876 contributed to the delay in construction. When UT finally became a reality, it centered around the area in Austin known as College Hill. 221 students enrolled in the initial session, though that number quickly expanded in the coming years.

The University at Austin continued to grow rapidly, and by the 1930s, it was decided that a new library space would be needed. As a result of this decision, the original Main Building was destroyed, much to the dismay of students and faculty alike, to make room for the new expansion. Today the building known as The Tower, built in 1937, stands in its place and is one of the most recognizable buildings at the University. Expansions also took place outside of Austin, including what is now the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, which is home to several research departments, including a fully functional nuclear reactor. The greatest period of physical expansion took place between 1950-1955, when UT was given the right of eminent domain (right to seize property with due compensation). The University built 19 buildings in those five years, and bought several acres of land surrounding the main campus.

The expansion continued, and today Texas’ main campus in Austin is 10 times as large as when it started and has 150 buildings. As of fall 2011, it has a student body of 51,145, the fifth largest enrollment in the country. It has become the flagship institution of the University of Texas System, and is one of the most recognizable schools in the country. Texas offers over 170 undergraduate majors in 17 colleges, and is considered one of the top public schools in the nation. Its graduate school is even more prestigious, with 43 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 nationally, as of 2010 according to U.S. News and World Report, including their College of Education (second nationally) and College of Pharmacy (fourth).

Texas gets boosts from its location, reputation, and size, but arguably the biggest reason UT is so recognizable is because of the Longhorn athletic teams. UT offers 18 varsity teams that compete in the Big 12 Conference. The Longhorns have won a total of 47 national championships in all sports, including 10 men’s and nine women’s swimming and diving championships, the most of any Texas sport. Texas is clearly not a one trick pony (or cow in this case). Their baseball team is the winningest program in NCAA history, has been to the College World Series a record 33 times, and has won six national championships, most recently in 2005. The Longhorns have dominated the Big 12, winning a total of 114 conference championships in all sports, more than double their closest competitor (Texas A&M, 53).

In a state in which football is king, the Longhorns certainly don’t disappoint. They are the second winningest football program in history, behind only Michigan. The Longhorns truly established themselves as a powerhouse in the 1960s, when they won three of their four national championships under coach Darrell Royal. Royal won the title in 1963, 1969, and 1970 before retiring from coaching in 1976. Current coach Mack Brown delivered Texas their fourth national title in 2005 in what is considered one of the greatest championship games in college football history. Quarterback Vince Young led the No. 2 Longhorns into the Rose Bowl to face Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and the defending national champion USC Trojans. Young won the game on a fourth down run with 20 seconds left to put the Longhorns up 41-38, which soon became the final score. The Longhorns most recently played in the title game in 2009, losing to Alabama, but have struggled since then. They finished 5-7 in 2010, the first time in the nine years prior that Brown had failed to win 10 games. In 2011 the Longhorns finished 8-5, including a 17-5 loss to Missouri in Columbia, and defeated California in the Holiday Bowl.

It’s difficult to stand up to such a storied program, but Texas’ mens basketball program has seen a great deal of success under coach Rick Barnes. The Longhorns have reached 12 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and won at least 20 games in 12 straight seasons under Barnes, who inherited a scandal-riddled team after previous coach Tom Penders was forced to resign in 1998. Their deepest run into the postseason occurred in 2003, when Naismith and Wooden Award-winner T.J. Ford led toe Longhorns to a 26-7 record and a berth in the Final Four. Their best regular season took place in 2007-08, when Kevin Durant led them to a 31-7 mark and the Elite Eight as a freshman. Durant may be the best of the many great Longhorn basketball players, winning National Player of the Year unanimously, along with being the second overall pick in the NBA Draft.

Last year’s Texas team was among the best in the country, finishing 28-7 and No. 8 in the final AP poll. Texas would have been among the top teams in the Big 12 again had a trio of underclassmen not declared for the draft early. Sophomore Jordan Hamilton, and freshmen Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson all entered the NBA Draft, leaving Texas with a relatively inexperienced roster. Although they have gotten off to a good 12-4 start, they have six freshmen who average double digit minutes, as opposed to just three upperclassmen. Junior guard J’Covan Brown leads the Big 12 in scoring with 18.1 PPG, while guard Sheldon McClellan (11.8 PPG) and Myck Kabongo (9.6 PPG, 5.3 APG) are Texas’ top freshman contributors.

On the court, Texas matches up similarly to Missouri, as Texas is a relatively small team. They have only one player over 6’7”, senior Clint Chapman, and get most of their offensive production from guards. The biggest difference between the two teams is experience. Missouri is one of the most experienced teams in the country, with five of the seven player rotation being seniors, while Texas plays six freshmen. Returning home should give the Tigers a needed boost to their shooting percentage, which dipped below their nation-best 51.1 percent in their two games on the road. With the two teams being similarly styled, Mizzou has the distinct advantage of being the veteran team playing at home. This seems like the right combination to defeat the up and coming Longhorns and look to continue Mizzou’s perfect home season.