Paulino, Harris won't play vs. Colorado
AUSTIN, Texas -- The losses are mounting as the Texas Longhorns' roster keeps shrinking.
Ranked as high as No. 10 a month ago, Texas has tumbled to No. 22 in this week's ESPN/USA Today rankings and No. 23 in The Associated Press rankings heading into Tuesday night's game at Colorado.
The Longhorns (15-6, 4-4 Big 12) have dropped three of their last four since losing P.J. Tucker to academic problems and are down to just six scholarship players in the rotation after Kenton Paulino (toe) and Sydmill Harris (groin) were injured in a 92-80 overtime loss Saturday against Iowa State.
Then came the latest bad news: Injured freshman center LaMarcus Aldridge is not expected to return this season, coach Rick Barnes said Monday.
Aldridge, who started 16 games and was averaging 9.9 points, has been listed as out indefinitely since injuring his left hip Jan. 15 in a win over Nebraska.
Aldridge had a doctor's appointment Monday and a formal ruling on his status was to come later. He tried to return to practice last week, Barnes said.
"We didn't like the way he responded afterward with the way he felt," Barnes said. "LaMarcus wants to do everything he can for this team. If the doctor gave him any hope at all there's no doubt in my mind he'd say 'I want to do this,'
"[But] from the time he got hurt we didn't think he'd be back," Barnes said. "I've moved on. I never thought he would come back."
All of which creates some unique challenges for Barnes, who took his last three Texas teams to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament, including a Final Four appearance in 2003. Those teams were deep in talent and often overwhelmed opponents with a rotation that consistently sent fresh bodies into the game.
"A lot of things have changed," Barnes said.
Of the six scholarship players left, three of them -- point guard Daniel Gibson and forwards Mike Williams and Dion Dowell -- are freshmen. Barnes said he'll likely start Dowell against Colorado (11-9, 3-6).
"I look at it as an opportunity," said Dowell, who is averaging 1.8 points in nine games. "We're not going to stop playing because of injuries."
For Barnes, it's a juggling act that reminds him of his last season at Clemson in 1997-98. Injuries had depleted his roster and four Tigers fouled out of a game at North Carolina, leaving Barnes with just four players left in uniform.
"The referee comes down and says 'Who you putting in?' " Barnes recalled. "I took my jacket off and undid my tie like I was going in the game and the place went nuts. It was the only time [North Carolina fans] thought I was funny. We ended the game with four."
Clemson also lost.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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