Rick Barnes got his 500th career win Tuesday night as No. 22 Texas beat Sam Houston State 84-50.
Barnes, who got sentimental after the game, is the 12th active men’s basketball Division I coach and 50th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win milestone.
“I’ve been blessed in my lifetime,” Barnes said. “I have an incredible family, and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. I’ve been lucky to have been at great universities with great presidents and great athletic directors and great players.”
Barnes said that on his drive to the Frank Erwin Center on Tuesday afternoon, he thought about all the players he’s coached during his time at George Mason, Providence, Clemson and Texas.
“I told the team before the game that life is a vapor; it goes by quick,” Barnes said. “I can close my eyes and tell you exactly what I wore that first game at Rutgers and what I said to my team. It seems like yesterday.”
Barnes’ first head coaching job was at George Mason, and in the Bulldogs’ first game against Seton Hall at Rutgers, he wore a blue pinstripe suit with a green tie.
“I promise you it matched,” he joked.
In the locker room after the win last night, the team celebrated and
presented Barnes with the game ball.
“It’s great. I hope he gets another 500,” said senior guard Dogus Balbay. “It feels great to be a part of it.”
Asked if Barnes would get off his players’ backs now that he’s reached this extraordinary mark, sophomore forward Jordan Hamilton laughed and said, “No, he’s getting old, that’s all.”
Sam Houston State head coach Jason Hooten, who is a first-year coach and only has two wins under his belt thus far, aspires to accomplish what Barnes has some day.
“Rick is a top-of-the-line guy,” Hooten said. “I look around at other coaches and other programs and he’s a guy you try to mold your program after.”
In Barnes’ 500th win, Hamilton exploded for a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds. In the last three games, Hamilton has averaged 26 points and eight rebounds.
Though the sophomore has led the team in scoring in all five games this season, it was his perimeter defense Tuesday night that Barnes was most proud of — the Longhorns held the Bearkats to 10 percent from 3-point range.
“He’s really tried on defense,” Barnes said. “He really held his stance for the most part.”
Balbay broke out for a career-high 14 points and went an impressive 6 of 8 from the floor. The guard also had three rebounds and three assists.
“I just ran the court and tried to get easy buckets,” Balbay said. “The coaches told me to push the ball before the game, and I think I did a good job executing. I don’t really care about the career high though.”
The Longhorns were also a solid 15 of 19 from the free throw line, the best they’ve been since before last season.
“And we’re only going to get better from here,” Barnes said.