Rodney Terry embraces challenge of facing mentor Rick Barnes

AUSTIN (KXAN) — No. 10 Texas will face No. 4 Tennessee in a battle of the top ten’s on Saturday at 5pm local time. It will be the 13th game for Rodney Terry since taking the helm as the Interim Head Coach.

Since being abruptly put into the role of the head man, Terry has kept the Longhorns on the winning path, going 10-2 in that span.

His presence has led the team to move forward almost seamlessly, despite losing Chris Beard, the man who started the season as Head Coach.

Beard was fired in January, weeks after his arrest on felony family violence charges.

Terry had to step up quickly, and on the night of Beard’s arrest, he led the Longhorns to a 87-81 overtime win over Rice.

One of the first people Terry called after the win, was mentor and former Longhorns Head Coach Rick Barnes.

Terry served as an assistant under Rick Barnes from 2002-2011, and he explained the insight that Barnes provided now that he was the leader of the program for the foreseeable future.

“He said to me, ‘Be prepared to be in that seat all year long and be prepared to will this team throughout the course of this regular season and you’re more than prepared for this opportunity,'” Terry said. “Coach taught me a lot about coaching at this level, taught me a lot about recruiting at this level, and what it takes to win at this level.”

As for as his team, they’ve navigated the tough waters of facing ranked opponents solidly, going 3-2 against teams ranked in the Top 25.

“I think as we hit adversity and we had to make a change, it took everybody to a higher level as far as doing our job,” Terry added. “We’ve been stellar as a group in terms of having each others back in terms of understanding what we have to do day in and day out to try to improve this team.”

Tennessee (17-3, 7-1 conference) provides quite the test for the Longhorns, and it’s not a mystery to Terry, his team, and the college basketball world.

There’s plenty of spotlight on this game, as ESPN’s College Gameday will showcase the matchup on Saturday.

“They’ve got size, they’ve got shooters, they’ve got experience, they’ve got a little bit of everything you need in terms of being elite,” Terry said. “Obviously, we’ve got to be able to go in there and do some things at an elite level ourselves, it’ll be an incredible resume for ourselves if we were to go in and get that dub.”

Tipoff will be in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday night at 5pm local time. You can catch the action on ESPN.

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