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Texas men’s basketball ranked No. 19 in AP preseason poll

It’s the 17th time in school history that the Longhorns earned recognition in the AP preseason poll.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Entering a key fifth season for Texas Longhorns head coach Shaka Smart, the Longhorns will start the 2020-21 campaign ranked No. 19 in the AP Top 25 after Monday’s release of the preseason poll.

Texas last appeared in the poll in November of last season ranked No. 22. A subsequent loss to Georgetown in the 2K Empire Classic knocked Smart’s team from the polls and a 2-5 start to conference play kept Texas from making another appearance last season.

The No. 19 ranking marks the 17th time in school history that the Horns earned a spot in the AP preseason poll and the first time since the 2016-17 season, Smart’s second on the Forty Acres.

Navigating Big 12 play, which starts on Dec. 13 at Baylor, will be difficult — Texas is one of five conference teams ranked in the preseason poll. Baylor ranks No. 2, Kansas is No. 6. Texas Tech is No. 14, and West Virginia sits at No. 15.

The preseason rankings provide even more perspective on how tough the Big 12 will be this season, as Texas ranks No. 9 nationally, but No. 5 in the conference.