Tuesday November 4th, 2014

This time last year the only buzz about the Longhorns involved speculation about potential replacements for coach Rick Barnes. (Buzz Williams? Shaka Smart?) A flurry of transfers had left Texas with an underwhelming roster and little hope for a ticket to the Big Dance. But the Longhorns  adopted a gritty, defense-first identity, advanced to the NCAA round of 32 and got Barnes a contract extension through 2019 -- as well as a commitment from consensus top 10 recruit Myles Turner.

On a team that has 94 percent of its scoring and nine of 10 rotation players back, Turner’s presence ups expectations exponentially. At 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, he is on board with the defensive philosophy, vowing to become a frontline “anchor.” Barnes raves about Turner’s timing on blocked shots but worries that at just 240 pounds he’ll get banged around down low. Fortunately he’ll have 6-foot-9, 285-pound center Cam Ridley and 6-foot-8, 240‑pound wing Jonathan Holmes to back him up. “We really have a chance to protect the rim,” Barnes says.

The Longhorns lack a three‑point threat, which means they’ll have to rely on sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor’s ability to penetrate and create. But if their offensive rhythm matches their defensive mojo, Austin will be buzzing for all the right reasons.

Read all of SI.com's 2014-15 college basketball preview content

Projected top seven scorers

name pos class ppg rpg apg o-rating
Isaiah Taylor G So 13.1 3.4 3.9 106.1
Jonathan Holmes F Sr 12.4 7.3 1.0 120.4
Myles Turner F Fr 12.3 8.2 0.9 120.8
Cameron Ridley F Jr 11.0 7.5 0.5 114.8
Javan Felix G Jr 10.1 1.4 2.8 110.7
Demarcus Holland G Jr 5.8 3.1 1.8 102.2
Connor Lammert F Jr 4.4 3.7 0.7 122.1


Projected Big 12 standings

rank team projected conf. record 2013-14 conf. record
1 Kansas 15-3 14-4
2 Texas 12-6 11-7
3 Iowa State 12-6 11-7
4 Kansas State 10-8 10-8
5 Oklahoma 10-8 12-6
6 Oklahoma State 8-10 8-10
7 Baylor 7-11 9-9
8 West Virginia 7-11 9-9
9 Texas Tech 5-13 6-12
10 TCU 4-14 0-18

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