No. 2 Texas will put its undefeated season and its highest ranking since 2010 on the line when it hosts No. 7 Creighton on Thursday in a Big 12/Big East Battle game in Austin, Texas.
The Longhorns' ranking is their the highest in the Associated Press poll since Texas was listed No. 1 in consecutive polls on Jan. 11 and Jan. 18, 2010. But the focus now is keeping that spot and improving enough to tackle the Bluejays, who are among the best and deepest teams in the nation.
Texas (5-0) heads back to the floor after a 91-54 win over Texas-Rio Grande Valley on Saturday.
Sir'Jabari Rice scored 19 points and Marcus Carr added 18 as the Longhorns set the pace early and rolled to the victory. Tyrese Hunter added 17 points for the Longhorns, with Dillon Mitchell scoring 10 and Dylan Disu pulling down 10 rebounds. Texas' reserve players outscored the UT-RGV bench 38-14.
The Longhorns have won their first five games (including a 93-74 win at home over then-No. 2 Gonzaga) by an average of 29.4 points per contest. Texas has allowed just 41 assists while forcing 103 turnovers.
"We've gotten better -- you learn from mistakes and trying to fix them and you learn from success," Texas coach Chris Beard said. "We've had great practices and this game is a great opportunity for us. We understand what we are up against with Creighton. We will have a chance to see where we are at in this early season and to keep improving."
Creighton (6-1) is also on a high as it travels to Austin for the first time ever, even after an 81-79 loss to then-No. 14 Arizona in the championship game of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 23.
Ryan Nembhard had 20 points while Ryan Kalkbrenner added 16 points, Trey Alexander had 15 and Baylor Scheierman posted 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Bluejays in the setback.
The Bluejays trailed by 14 with 12:19 remaining but cut the lead to three points and had a chance to tie the game after calling a timeout with 7.4 seconds left to play. Nembhard was fouled with two seconds left. After making the first free throw, he intentionally missed his second attempt, but Arizona grabbed the rebound.
That loss followed tournament wins over then-No. 21 Texas Tech and then-No. 9 Arkansas.
"There's so much learning that can take place as a result of three games like this," Creighton coach Greg McDermott said after the Maui Invitational. "You play three ranked teams, essentially, in 52 hours or whatever it was. But it's everything that you have been working on, everything you've been practicing. You really find out, it's a barometer to where you are and where you have to grow, both from a team perspective, but also as an individual perspective."
The Bluejays' No. 7 ranking in the poll is tied for its highest ever, a spot they've previously held four times, all since January 2017. Creighton started the season at No. 9 in the AP poll.
Texas and Creighton have played just once before, a 77-64 win by the Bluejays on a neutral floor in the NCAA Tournament in 1974.
--Field Level Media