Syracuse

When sophomore guard Brady Sanders subbed in with 2:31 left Thursday night, the Longhorns were down 21 points to Syracuse. Sanders didn’t let it faze her, though, draining a trifecta of 3-pointers and a free throw to bring her team within 10.

The Longhorns still fell to the Orange but used the near comeback as motivation to beat No. 11 Texas A&M and Memphis before leaving the Virgin Islands.

“I think some players didn’t have much of a sense of urgency today,” head coach Karen Aston said.    

Texas allowed four Syracuse players to reach double-figures as a five-point halftime deficit grew. A season-high 23 turnovers were the main culprit — the Orange notched 24 points off turnovers alone.

Texas regrouped before Friday, as it trumped the Aggies 69-58. Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali led the Longhorns with 20 points and 11 rebounds in her second double-double this season. Freshman center Kelsey Lang chipped in with 10 points during her first start.

“We did an excellent job coming off a loss from last night and not dwelling on it,” Sanders said. “Everyone really understood what this rivalry means even though we’re not in the same conference.”

Sanders performed well in each of the weekend games, connecting on another three three-pointers against A&M and two against Memphis on Saturday in the Longhorns’ 65-36 win. She finished the weekend 9-for-16 behind the arc, paired with what Aston described as “terrific defense” in which the Longhorns followed the game plan and were “extremely focused on responding to scouting reports.” 

Lang hit another career-high 12 points with perfect second-half shooting. While Lang said her teammates’ support was key in calming her nerves, Aston said Lang brings a new dimension to her teammates as well.

“Lang has opened up some room for Nneka because she has the ability to space the floor a little bit differently than our other post players do,” Aston said. “She has a good feel in the post and she’s a smart player.”

Texas faces Arkansas-Little Rock on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.

The Longhorns are headed to the Virgin Islands to play in the Paradise Jam Tournament on Thursday. But the vacation atmosphere will not be reflected on the court.

Syracuse — a team not ranked in the top 25, but receiving votes — is Texas’ first opponent. 

Last week, the Longhorns almost pulled off a major upset over Stanford, but surrendered their lead late in the second half as the Cardinal made an extended run to down Texas 63-54. 

“It’s extremely frustrating,” junior forward Nneka Enemkpali said. “We had an opportunity to win, but we didn’t come out energized in the second half, and in the past, we didn’t do what we needed to in order to help our team win.”

Despite the defeat, Texas performed better than expected against Stanford and gained a valuable lesson against tough opponents — they must play 40 minutes with maximum energy. 

The lesson could not have come at a more opportune time, as the Orange usually start fast. In Syracuse’s most recent game versus Maine, the Orange began by outscoring the Black Bears 27-2 and won the game by 55 points. 

Syracuse is consistently a high-scoring team, averaging 91.2 points per game — the only time Texas scored more than that average was against Texas State — partially because of their accuracy. The Orange shoot 42.2 percent from the field compared to Texas’ 39.7 percent. 

The Longhorns must focus their attention on Syracuse’s Brittney Sykes, an explosive guard and the Orange’s leading scorer.

Look to senior Chassidy Fussell, only the fifth player in Texas history to lead the team in scoring for three consecutive seasons, to have a big game. Fussell was named to the Naismith Trophy Early Season Watch List on Monday. The list recognizes 50 of the best players in the nation, serving as a precursor for the player of the year award.

Texas will also play No. 12 Texas A&M and Memphis in the tournament.

2013 NBA Mock Draft - Staff Picks

A few sports reporters compiled lists of who they think will be drafted in tonight's NBA draft. Here are their top ten and where they project Texas' Myck Kabongo will end up.

 

Sara Beth Purdy, Sports Editor

1. Cleveland: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

3. Washington: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

4. Charlotte: Anthony Bennett, PF, UNLV

5. Phoenix: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

6. New Orleans: Alex Len, C, Maryland

7. Sacramento: C.J. McCollum, SG, Lehigh

8. Detroit: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

9. Minnestoa: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

10. Portland: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

...

51. Orlando: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas

 

Christian Corona, Sports Permanent Staff

1. Cleveland: Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky

2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

3. Washington: Otto Porter, SF, Georgetown

4. Charlotte: Alex Len, C, Maryland

5. Phoenix: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

6. New Orleans: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

7. Sacramento: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

8. Detroit: C.J. McCollum, PG, Lehigh

9. Minnesota: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia

10. Portland: Cody Zeller, C, Indiana

...

46. Utah: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas

 

Diego Esteban Contreras, Sports Issue Staff

1. Cleveland: Nerlins Noel, C, Kentucky

2. Orlando: Ben McLemore, SG, Kansas

3. Washington: Otto Porter Jr., SF, Georgetown

4. Charlotte: Victor Oladipo, SG, Indiana

5. Phoenix: Alex Len, C, Maryland

6. New Orleans: Anthony Bernnett, PF, UNLV

7. Sacramento: Trey Burke, PG, Michigan

8. Detroit: Michael Carter-Williams, PG, Syracuse

9. Minnesota: Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh

10. Portland: CJ McCollum, PG, Lehigh

...

38. Washington: Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas

The Citrus Classic featured some of the best competition head coach Connie Clark’s team had seen yet — and they handled them.

But Texas struggled against the weaker teams.

At the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla., the No. 5 Longhorns’ picked up signature wins over No. 15 Louisville, 2-0 and over No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette, 7-2.

A 7-2 loss against Hofstra (4-8), a 9-7 loss to Fordham (6-9) and a 2-1, come-from-behind win over Syracuse (5-8) didn’t reflect Texas’ high ranking and impressive record.

However, the tournament did help clear up how deep the Longhorns’ rotation is. While it has been known that Blaire Luna (9-0) is the ace of the staff, the No. 2 spot has been up for grabs in the early season. But with a stellar 14-strikeout performance against Syracuse, senior Kim Bruins (5-0) appears to have locked up the spot.

“Kim Bruins competes so well,” Clark said of Bruins, who is 5-0 this year. “I liked her performance overall. She had good command. She got stronger as the game went on. In a tight ballgame like tonight, it’s nice to have her out there.”

While Luna, who pitched a shutout and another complete game against two Top 15 teams, and Bruins looked stellar, the other two pitchers struggled. Freshman Holly Kern took two more losses and now accounts for all three of Texas’ losses this season while Gabby Smith struggled in her lone outing, giving up four runs in just 0.2 innings in the defeat to Fordham.

Offensively, the Longhorns scored seven runs three times and two runs twice with a mixture of the long ball and small ball. Taylor Thom, Bruins, and Mandy Ogle combined for back-to-back-to-back homers in the third inning of their win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Taylor Hoagland also hit a homer against Fordham to move into a tie for fifth on the Big 12 all-time home run list.

Small ball was provided against Syracuse as Brejae Washington and Smith hit RBI sacrifice flies in the top of the seventh to come back and beat Syracuse.

The Longhorns return to Red and Charline McCombs Field on Wednesday for a doubleheader against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Published on March 4, 2013 as "Luna, Bruins carry Longhorns". 

Column

Head coach Mack Brown celebrates the Longhorns 49-20 win over UCLA on Saturday. His team will remain in the Big 12 for now.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Mack Brown may get what he wants after all.

The longtime Longhorns head football coach has repeatedly expressed his desire to keep the Big 12 Conference intact and maintain regional rivalries. That seemed less and less likely with the Pac-12 Conference becoming a probable destination for Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. But after Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott’s announcement that his conference won’t expand, the Big 12 could be saved in the 11th hour yet again.

Even if Missouri follows Texas A&M into the SEC, the Big 12 won’t be beyond salvaging. The Big 12 has proven it can make things work with 10 teams but may soon be stuck with eight. Fortunately for the Big 12, the Big East is in an even worse spot with Syracuse and Pittsburgh headed to the ACC (and Connecticut and Rutgers eager to join them).

The Big 12 needs to go after Texas Christian University and West Virginia. TCU is set to become a member of the Big East soon but would be a better fit in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs would make sense geographically and would quickly become one of the Big 12’s most competitive teams.

West Virginia, who was rejected by the ACC and SEC (possibly for academic reasons), clearly wants to leave the Big East for a more stable conference. The Mountaineers would, unlike TCU, provide another television market to explore, as well as great football and men’s basketball programs.

If either of those two teams isn’t willing to come to the Big 12, Louisville is also a viable option. But TCU and West Virginia would put another Band-Aid on the Big 12’s wounds and keep the conference around a bit longer.

Oklahoma’s recent demands for a new Big 12 commissioner and new rules regarding the Longhorn Network (which may be responsible for this whole conference realignment mess in the first place) could be problematic. But the Sooners lost all their leverage when joining the Pac-12 was eliminated as a possible destination. Problem solved.

The ACC is also a potential landing spot for Texas. It’s handled this conference realignment chaos beautifully by realizing it’s not a football powerhouse and playing to its strength: basketball. Look for Connecticut, whose men’s basketball team just won a national title, to join Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the ACC, along with Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish have made it clear they want to stay independent in football, but the ACC would be their first choice if they gave it up. The ACC should let them keep their TV deal with NBC, especially since Notre Dame meets its academic standards.

Texas is beginning to look more and more like Notre Dame now that it has its own network. And, like the Fighting Irish, the Longhorns could go independent. It would make scheduling difficult, especially for teams playing Olympic sports. So, like Notre Dame and the Big East, Texas would likely have to join a conference for its non-football squads to compete in anyway.

Only 24 hours ago, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Texas was going to the Pac-12. That’s no longer the case, but such is the nature of conference realignment. Just when you’ve finished packing your bags, you find out you’re not going anywhere.

You’re welcome, Mack.

Printed September 22, 2011 as: Big 12 to remain intact, Pac-12 says no to expansion