clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Interim Texas head coach Rodney Terry previews trip to Knoxville

He’ll face his mentor.

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The next chapter of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge will be written on Saturday, which means another premier matchup is up next for Tennessee. Rick Barnes will face his former team for the second consecutive season, this time in Knoxville.

Tennessee went to Austin last year and took the loss, despite a frantic comeback at the end.

The Texas sideline will look a little different this year, however. Chris Beard is no longer the head coach at Texas, adding another wrinkle to this matchup. Beard was fired with cause by Texas following his arrest on Dec. 12 for felony domestic violence.

That means former Rick Barnes assistant Rodney Terry will get another shot at his mentor on Saturday night at Thompson Boling Arena. From 2002-2011, Terry worked alongside Barnes at Texas, helping recruit guys like Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin and Tristan Thompson. The two went to a final four together, along with three elite eight appearances.

Terry eventually would leave to take the Fresno State job. He landed at UTEP for three seasons after that, before joining Beard in Austin last season. He’s now leading the Longhorns for the remainder of the year as the interim head coach.

Texas is 6-2 in Big 12 play, suffering losses to Kansas State and Iowa State. The Longhorns are 17-3 overall, ranked 10th in the latest AP poll. They have a huge chance on Saturday night to add another resume win, and Terry was asked about that opportunity earlier this week.

“We played against a top-10 defense tonight (Oklahoma State) where we scored 89 points,” Terry said after an 89-75 win over the Cowboys. “We had a little bit more turnovers than we wanted to have. We always try to have 10 or less, we had 18 tonight. Give them credit, they do a great job defending. We’ll play the best defensive team in the country on Saturday. Coach Barnes is like family to me. He’s a mentor — someone I stay in close contact with on a regular basis, but it’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

Tennessee remains as KenPom’s top-ranked defense in the country, a spot that they’ve held for several weeks now. Texas is KenPom’s ninth-ranked team overall, sporting the 12th most efficient offense in the country.

The Volunteers are also 17-3, and they’ve proved tough to beat at Thompson Boling over the past few seasons. A long home win streak was snapped just a couple of weeks ago by Kentucky, and Texas will be looking to stop another streak from forming on Saturday.

“It’s what you want when you come to Texas to play in these kinds of games,” Terry said. “College GameDay is there. I think it’s going to be a special opportunity for us. I’ve only had the opportunity to coach against him (Barnes) one time here in a highly-competitive game years ago when I was at Fresno State. We’ll be excited about the challenge — going up and competing against one of the best teams in the country.”

Tennessee has bounced back nicely from that Kentucky loss, fighting through injuries to pick up a couple of road wins and blowing the doors off of Georgia in Knoxville on Wednesday. The defense continues to hit on all cylinders, which allows them to stay in any game — even if the offense is lagging.

Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.