Senior forward Nneka Enemkpali scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting against Tennessee on Sunday. Enemkpali sunk 13 of her points during the second half of Texas’ 72-59 win.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Outscoring its opponent 38-26 in the paint under the leadership of sophomore center Kelsey Lang’s 18 points and six rebounds, the women’s basketball team defeated the fourth-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers, 72-59.

Despite this matchup being the 33rd consecutive season the teams played one another, Sunday’s victory is the first time since 2008 the Longhorns defeated the Lady Volunteers.

Texas head coach Karen Aston said she didn’t know whether the team would win but knew they had prepared well.

“I thought this was a really tremendous effort from our basketball team,” Aston said. “I think our inside game was terrific today. They battled really hard … and did the things it takes to be a presence in the paint.”

The Longhorns grabbed the lead early in the first half and extended as high as a 12-point margin.

In the second half, sophomore guard Brianna Taylor and senior forward Nneka Enemkpali continued their scoring streaks. Enemkpali went 7-of-10 from the field to score 13 of her 17 points in the second half. Taylor did not miss a shot the entire game, totaling 10 points and five rebounds.

“I come off the bench and give us energy, rebound, defend and help [Enemkpali] out down there in the paint,” Taylor said. “[I’m] just coming in, being solid and getting stops on defense, so I’m learning.”

Within 10 days, the Longhorns (5-0) won two games against top-5 opponents. Aston said the wins influence the players’ mind-set significantly.

“We have players that have never been in these situations before or players that are older that have not had these significant wins before, so I think from a confidence perspective, it is unbelievable,” Aston said. “Now we have a long way to go.”

This season, Lang has scored double digits in every game. She said that after the team found out about junior center Imani McGee-Stafford’s injury, she changed her mentality to become an offensive threat.

“My teammates and coaches have helped me so much with that,” Lang said. “I have gained so much confidence because they have confidence in me.”

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins ended the game with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Enemkpali said she overheard Atkins talking about how fun the season has been so far, but Enemkpali said the veterans must remind teammates that the season is far from over.  

“If you want it to continue to be fun, then we have to work as hard as we’re working to continue to have fun,” Enemkpali said.

The Longhorns will continue their six-game home stint against New Mexico on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Baylor packed the paint and Texas’ jump shots weren’t falling. That's a negative recipe for the Longhorns on any night, and in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament it proved disastrous.

It’s no secret the Longhorns have difficulty putting up points when teams take away their heavy post presence, and it’s a tactic Baylor executed to perfection. Texas shot a paltry 40 percent from the floor – a number boosted heavily from garbage time baskets -- and had a difficult time creating any consistent offensive rhythm.

“We’ve got to play better than that, we got too,” sophomore guard Javan Felix said. “And we have one more chance to show it.”

Texas’ starting backcourt of Isaiah Taylor, Felix and Demarcus Holland combined for 20 points – 16 of which were Taylor’s -- a crippling offensive stat for a team that already struggles to create offense on its own. Felix, who has launched 49 more shots than the next closest Longhorn this season, finished the game with a season-low two points on four attempts.

Felix is never shy launching shots, sometimes to Texas’ detriment, but the Longhorns need him to produce consistently to allow their offensive system to find success.

“That’s just my role, and I have to play it better,” Felix said. “I have to do a better job of getting open.”

The Bears’ 1-1-3 zone pushed Texas’ bigs up the floor and forced the Longhorn guards to take shots outside their comfort zone. The three Baylor forwards inside helped take away the Longhorns’ rebounding edge and the Texas guards failed to drive the ball and take advantage of the added space.  

“It was the same type of saggy defense they usually do, and we just didn’t execute,” freshman guard Kendal Yancy said. “We just got to attack, attack more and get into their bigs.”

It was only a slight alteration to the defensive formula Baylor attempted in its first two matchups with Texas this season. But this time, Baylor was aided by starting the game with a big lead. A 15-point halftime deficit is surmountable for most teams, but the Longhorns have a difficult time making sustained runs when they can't dump the ball inside.

“We didn’t compete as hard as we should have in the first half, “sophomore guard Demarcus Holland said. “We tried to make a run and it was too late.”

Normally, Texas can endure poor performances from the field with a concerted effort to reach the free throw line and effort on the offensive boards. Friday night, the Longhorns found little relief in either. Texas nabbed 23 offensive boards, but Baylor only lost the category by five. And free throws were a nearly nonexistent premise for Texas. The Longhorns converted only two attempts from the line in a game where Baylor drained 12 threes. Actually, Baylor’s 50 percent shooting from behind the arc is twice as good as Texas’ 25 percent effort from the line.

“The best thing to do [against their zone] is to try and get fouls, and that’s the big thing I regret not doing,” Yancy said. “We’ve got to try and get in the middle and make a play. You’ve got to get to the free throw line.”


Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Texas overpowered a slow defense Wednesday night to smother Texas Tech, 88-51. The Longhorns held a 48-4 scoring advantage in the paint to prove head coach Karen Aston that they are, in fact, “a lot better at home.”

“You can really tell the difference in our team’s personality and their comfort at home,” Aston said. “The crowds are growing and becoming a bigger part of it, but there’s no question that it’s made a difference for our team this year.”

Texas started off slow, allowing the Red Raiders (6-16, 0-11 Big 12) to score first off a foul shot by sophomore guard Brady Sanders. The teams exchanged leads three times in the first five minutes before the Texas offense took off on a 28-3 run. Texas scored 22 points in the paint, while shutting out Texas Tech’s interior presence but didn’t limit itself to inside shooting. Texas shot 75 percent from the free throw line and hit 46.7 percent of its shots from behind the arc.

“They’re getting more comfortable,” Aston said. “We’ve slowed down a bit but I thought we’d slowed down too much. I started calling a few more plays, trying to get back to our transition game.”

Texas’ comfort and big lead made it possible for 11 players to enter the game in the first half, 10 of whom scored and five of whom hit threes. Sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford’s perfect five shot attempts highlighted the half as she towered above defenders. Texas finished the half up 51-22.

“Everyone was shooting around and feeling good before the game,” sophomore guard Empress Davenport said. “It had to do a lot with our focus.”

The Longhorns (15-7, 6-4 Big 12) continued to stretch their lead through the second half, as Davenport, Sanders and McGee-Stafford cruised to double figures in scoring. After struggling with just two points in 14 minutes against Baylor on Saturday, Davenport connected on 7 of 9 from the field to finish with 15 points. Though she said she “didn’t get as many rebounds as [she] needed to,” Aston thought Davenport’s comeback was crucial.

“It was really important she had a good game,” Aston said. “It’s a maturity game. She played a very solid game, was focused and kept her emotions in check.”

Texas showed why it leads the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage. The Longhorns also improved their conference best field goal percentage defense as they restricted the Red Raiders to a mere 26 percent shooting. 

“We focus every day on getting better offensively,” Aston said. “I think it’s evident that every day we are getting better, more comfortable with the system and with each other.”

Sophomore guard Brady Sanders sets up a play during Texas' game against Kansas earlier in the season. Over the weekend, the Longhorns fell to TCU to mark the first loss to the Horned Frogs in program history. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Struggling with poor first-half defense and 26 turnovers, the Longhorns suffered their first loss against TCU in program history. The Horned Frogs jumped out to a 30-18 halftime lead en route to a 54-48 victory.

“We didn’t put forth the effort in the first half against a team that’s hungry and never beaten us,” head coach Karen Aston said. “We didn’t have the desire to win in the first half.”

Satiating TCU’s hunger left the Longhorns (12-6, 3-3 Big 12) with an empty plate in the first period. They battled a 5:29 scoreless stretch and allowed the Horned Frogs (12-6, 3-3 Big 12) a clear advantage in the paint. 

The Longhorn season has been characterized by domination in the paint, outrebounding opponents by an average of 12.6 rebounds per game and outscoring opponents in the paint by an average of 33.9 to 18.0. But in Sunday’s first half, the Horned Frogs tripled the Longhorns’ inside production — outscoring them 24 to 8 in the paint — and outrebounding them 24 to 19.

“We were absolutely horrible on the defensive end in the first half,” Aston said. “Every hustle play was theirs and we didn’t have the effort it takes in a Big 12 game. You can’t kid yourself about what the Big 12 is like and we showed up very lackadaisical.”

Texas sought to reclaim a chance at victory with an 11-0 run to open the second half. Cutting the deficit to one, the Longhorns paired offensive production with long-awaited hints of defense as they forced three TCU turnovers. Texas also kept the Horned Frogs scoreless for around eight minutes before junior Natalie Ventress broke through and scored at the 11:22 mark.

From there, the in-state squads traded baskets and leads. Sophomore guard Brady Sanders’ three second-half 3-pointers kept the Longhorns in the game until free throw woes troubled them down the stretch. Both senior guard Chassidy Fussell and junior forward Nneka Enemkpali missed their free throws before TCU sank four straight from the line.

Aston said that, though defense was the deciding factor, the team must also reassess its mental preparation on the road.

“Some people need to get hungry again,” Aston said. “You get in the situation where you’re getting a lot of minutes and you get comfortable. We’ve got to get some ‘uncomfortableness’ about us again.”

Sanders and sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford led Texas with nine points each, while McGee-Stafford and Enemkpali grabbed seven and 12 rebounds respectively. Enemkpali fouled out for the second consecutive game.

Texas returns to the friendly confines of the Frank Erwin Center this Saturday at 3 p.m., as the Longhorns host West Virginia (17-2, 5-1
Big 12).

Former welder and hot rod builder Todd Sanders now fabricates vintage neon decor out of his gallery and workshop Austin Relics. True to his style, Sanders shies away from the computer and relies on specialized techniques to create hand-crafted metal and neon art. 

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

Countless photos commemorating visits to the capital city feature the words “Greetings From Austin” painted in the background. The mural on the south side of Roadhouse Relics is as iconic as the “Hi, How Are You” frog on the Drag or the “I love you so much,” art scrawled on the side of a South Congress cafe. But at 15 years old, the mural is faded and paint flakes off in large chunks, which is why Todd Sanders, owner of Roadhouse Relics, a neon art gallery, started a fundraising campaign to restore the mural he helped create.

Sanders, a soft-spoken man with a slow Texas drawl and piercing blue eyes, founded Roadhouse Relics in 1997. After moving into the building, local artists Bill Brakhage and Rory Skagen, who lived across the street, came to Sanders with a proposition.  

“[Bill and I] rented the building right across the street from Todd,” local muralist Skagen said. “We tried to sell the mural idea to many businesses, and nobody understood what a good idea it was. Todd understood what a good idea it was.”

According to Skagen, postcards of old Austin inspired the mural. The artwork came from an original postcard but Brakhage and Skagen made a few changes when creating the mural.

Sanders began fundraising efforts to restore the mural with the Color Squad, a group of artists whose ages range from 14 to 20 years old and who paint murals around Austin. Since Aug. 15, they have raised $8,500 to cover preparation materials, paint and landscaping, though they hope to raise $10,000 total.

When he isn’t busy restoring some of Austin’s iconic street art, Sanders creates original works inside of Roadhouse Relics.

Before learning how to bend neon, Sanders worked as a welder, a hot rod mechanic, an antique picker and a sign painter. He moved to Austin in 1992 to begin an apprenticeship at Ion Art, a custom neon sign and metal fabrication shop.

At first, Sanders did both commercial and fine art neon. But after noticing that many commercial neon pieces were being thrown away after businesses closed, he decided to drop the commercial aspect in 2007 and focus on creating art.

“People thought I was nuts for closing down a profitable part of my business, but it’s not about money; I make enough to survive on,” Sanders said. “It’s about being happy and satisfied, and so I did it, and now it’s more popular than ever.” 

Using his creativity and a love for ‘30s and ‘40s neon sign design, Sanders blends vintage and modern influences to make his art. He laughingly calls himself a neon archeologist and seeks out old trade journals to learn tips, tricks and secrets that have long been forgotten. The end result is modern art that remains reverent to the past. 

“I’ve seen examples of [neon art], but Todd developed this idea back in the ‘90s when it wasn’t extremely popular and [he] has made it what it is,” Skagen said. 

Sanders believes that neon art gives a person more than just an interesting object to look at.

“These are bold and gregarious, and you won’t find anything like them. You might find an antique sign, but if you come here you’ll find something that’s kind of like a tattoo,” Sanders said. “It’s a graphic symbol that is all your own, colorful and one of a kind.”

In the meantime, Sanders and his team of Color Squad artists are working to restore one of Austin’s graphic symbols. Just beyond the sign’s flaking paint, which is expected to be refreshed by October, is the neon-bending man behind the mural, creating original pieces of art inside of Roadhouse Relics.

Myck Kabongo is averaging 13.0 points and 3.5 assists per game since returning from a 23-game suspension to start the season. If Texas wants to find success he’ll need to find his groove quickly.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The hopes that Myck Kabongo would revive this team with a strong finish to end the conference slate on a high note are lost.

The only thing left for Texas to do in the wake of the loss to Kansas is to pick up the pieces of its program and figure out where it all went wrong and how it can become competitive again. 

In other words, there aren’t many positives that can be taken away after Saturday night.

Kansas completely shut Texas down with its defense and its offense was good enough for a 26-point win over Texas. “You give a team like Kansas breathing room and they can be loose and free, they make shots,” head coach Rick Barnes said after the loss Saturday. “I think we have to give them credit with their defense, but we had a lot of looks that we would have liked to make, but you have to make them.”

At first it seemed like Texas would be able to keep up with Kansas. The interior defense denied Kansas anything in the paint. But as soon as the Jayhawks figured out how to beat it, they were able to roll to 38 points in the paint.

Meanwhile, the offense was completely lost for nearly the entire game. The Longhorns only had five field goals in the first half, with Demarcus Holland getting an open dunk with 37 seconds left in the half. Kansas started off hot hitting its first four three-point attempts. Eventually the Texas offense devolved to jacking three-pointers in an attempt to finally make one - which it infrequently did - going 2-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Texas was hesitant to penetrate the paint while KU’s Jeff Withey patrolled around the rim, and the team couldn’t consistently find ways to get him out of position. 

To put it simply, things came easy for Kansas. Texas became easy to defend, while its defense gave up too many open shots to the Jayhawks. 

At the same time, everything was hard for Texas. It couldn’t handle Kansas’ ball movement on defense and had absolutely no offense.

It was an embarrassing game for the Longhorns, and to say they got run out of the arena by Kansas would be an understatement. The loss drops Texas’ road record to a pitiful 0-7 on the road and 1-4 in neutral games. Next is a road game against TCU. It looks winnable on paper, but that is likely the same thing that Kansas thought before its 62-55 loss to the Horned Frogs on Feb. 6.

TCU’s only conference win was against Kansas, but Texas is not much better with three wins in Big 12 play this year. It is clear the Texas program isn’t what is was a few years ago when it was competing for conference championships with the Jayhawks. It may no longer be at Kansas’ level, but it needs to show that it hasn’t dropped down to TCU’s level. 

Another road loss would lower this horrific season to apocalyptic levels.


First Half: Texas was struck with turnovers and inconsistent play as it let Iowa State end the half with a 14-0 run and a first-half 39-24 in favor of the Cyclones. The Longhorns made only 33.3 percent from the floor while they let the Cyclones shoot 53.6 percent. Anna Prins, at 6-foot-7, led Iowa State with 14 points while freshman Empress Davenport led her squad with seven. The Longhorns also had a tough time controlling the parameter as they let Iowa State make 53.8 percent of their three-point shots.  

Second Half: The Longhorns came out looking for a spark to get their third straight win. While they improved on both sides of the ball, the Cyclones were able to keep the young team at bay. Celina Rodrigo, coming off just two points in the first half, came out hot and finished the second half with eight more points. However, finishing with a 49.0 shooting percentage, the Cyclones ended the game with a 16-4 run to claim the victory. 

Stock Up

The freshman duo of Davenport and Rodrigo led the Longhorns on offense- Davenport finished with 13 points on the night while Rodrigo had season-high 10 on the night. The pair, which averaged 35 minutes of playing time on the night, kept Texas alive in the first part of the second half as they made big shots.

Stock Down

Nneka Enemkpali- Toward the middle of the first half, Enemkpali got tangled up with an Iowa State player and was slow to get up. After that, she seemed to move at half-pace and had trouble making shots. The sophomore, who is usually the points leader for the Longhorns, ended up with just six points and five rebounds. 

By the Numbers:

10: Texas was held to just 10 points in the paint. Enemkpali and Imani McGee-Stafford were held to just 11 combined points which shut out the Longhorns’ main source of points down low.

20: In their nine wins this season, the Longhorns have held their opponents to just 29 percent shooting from the floor. In Wednesday’s game, Texas allowed 20 percent greater shooting, allowing 49 percent. 

The Longhorns now look to Saturday night when they will face No. 1 ranked Baylor (21-1, 11-0 20-1, 10-0). This is the first game between Texas and the Bears after Baylor won the national championship last spring. 

Freshman center Imani McGee-Stafford, Texas’ leading rebounder, has made her mark while learning the ropes of college basketball.  

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Six feet, seven inches is tall, especially for women’s basketball. 

Imani McGee-Stafford is proving that she can do more than just stand tall in the paint this season. After 15 games, the freshman has led the team in rebounding five times and continues to get better.

“Her performance is showing that she is trying to improve,” head coach Karen Aston said. “She is starting to really think about the things that we are asking her to get better at and she’s starting to apply them, even if it’s just little things like footwork or how to run the offense.”

Like most first-year players, McGee-Stafford’s adjustment to the college level of play has been gradual. But Big 12 competition has forced her to learn on the fly.

“The biggest change has been the physicality of the game,” McGee-Stafford said. “But I think it’s made me a much better rebounder.”

Jitters or not, when her name was called to make her first start against powerhouse Tennessee, she rose to the occasion.

“Having [senior post] Cokie [Reed] out for this game, Imani was forced step into her shoes and start,” forward Nneka Enemkpali said. “She empowered that role.”

Due to “exercise-induced hypertension,” Reed has decided to retire from college basketball, along with guard Chelsea Bass.

Rebounding has been the staple for the Longhorns all season long, thanks in part to McGee-Stafford, who appears poised to do big things the rest of the way.

“I’m definitely getting more comfortable,” McGee-Stafford said. “I’m learning as I go to play hard, even if it’s wrong, just play hard through it and correct it as I go along. I’m just learning what I’m doing.”

She’s become comfortable with each contest, averaging 10.2 points and 9.7 rebounds per game this year. But even with the adjustments, McGee-Stafford sees a lot to fix.

“I think my offense has been a big problem, especially my poise on offense,” McGee-Stafford said. “At this point I’d rate my play a five or a six [out of 10]. And I think that’s pretty high actually.”

Texas is currently on a six-game losing streak and sits at 0-4 in Big 12 play, although McGee-Stafford has played well in all four contests.

“[For the] losses in Big 12 play we’ve been in the game,” McGee-Stafford said. “They’ve done nothing to deter us from winning, it’s just been us not executing.”

Stafford and the Longhorns will try to snap that six-game losing streak when they host Texas Tech on Wednesday.

“Rebounding is key and I need to finish whatever touches I get in the paint,” McGee-Stafford said. “I’m not fond of losing and we all share that mentality. As long as I control the boards then we control the tempo of the game.”

The Big 12 is one of the toughest conferences in college basketball and, aqlthough rivalries can be exciting and daunting for newcomers, winning is the main concern.

“At this point I’m just looking forward to a win,” McGee-Stafford said. “It doesn’t really matter to me who we play.”

With a tall stature and a game beginning to grow just as tall, McGee-Stafford is a player to keep an eye on as the Longhorns move forward.

“The sky is the limit for her,” Enemkpali said. “She’s 6-foot-7 and I just want her to buy into it, and once she taps into it, we are going to be an even better team with her.”

Published on January 16, 2013 as "Shaking freshman jitters". 

Freshman Demarcus Holland dribbles down the court. He made his first career start and scored five points during Texas’ win.
Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Why Texas Won-

Texas was able to hold Sam Houston State to 21 percent shooting from the field and forced the Bearkats to attempt ­­­28 three-pointers, of which they only made six. The Longhorns got to the free throw line early and often, and after a slow start were able to assert their dominance inside the paint. The Bearkats were held to just one offensive rebound in the second half and the Longhorns commanded a 47 to 32 rebounding advantage, stifling any upset bid the Bearkats may have had in mind.

“I really thought that this was a game that if we played well, we could win,” Jason Hooten, Sam Houston State head coach, said. “I know y’all might think I’m crazy, but I watched those three games in Maui and I was hoping they’d play like that tonight.”

First Half-
The Longhorns recorded assists on seven of their nine made baskets and missed just one of their 12 free throw attempts. Sheldon McClellan shook off a slow start shooting the ball and scored 12 first-half points while adding five rebounds. Jonathan Holmes grabbed the sole offensive rebound for Texas but added 8 points to give the Longhorns a 32-18 advantage at the intermission.

Second Half-
Sophomore guard Julien Lewis scored all 10 of his points in the second half, giving Texas the push it needed to come away with a win. The Bearkats seemed to be bothered by the Longhorns’ zone defense and were forced into bad shots from the perimeter. Freshman center Cameron Ridley blocked two shots, giving the Longhorns a total of six blocked shots in the game.

By The Numbers-
26- Points in the paint for the Longhorns, compared to just six from the Bearkats.
19- Texas turnovers, moving the Longhorns’ season average to a shade over 19 through six games played.
12- Points from Bearkat freshman guard Paul Baxter, son of former Texas forward Ron Baxter. Paul Baxter also graduated from Bowie High School.

Stock Up- Demarcus Holland
Holland earned his first career start and played a season-high 26 minutes. The freshman scored five points and pulled down six rebounds while also backing up point guard Javan Felix when he got into foul trouble in the second half.

“Other guys had been doing a good job of playing harder so those guys are going to play first,” McClellan said. “But it doesn’t matter to me who starts or if I come off the bench. Coach just wanted me to play harder in practice.”

Stock Down- Connor Lammert
In just nine minutes on the court Lammert turned the ball over twice and never looked to be comfortable on the defensive end of the court. He connected on both of his shots from the field, but was unable to knock down his two free throw attempts.

Printed on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 as: Rebounding, free throws key to Texas win

Texas scored points from every spot on the court on its way to a 94-58 victory over Central Connecticut. The Longhorns eclipsed the 90-point mark for the first time since December of 2011. Another dominating performance in the paint fueled the charge as the women outscored their opponents 42-12 in the low post. Head coach Karen Aston’s style of transition basketball was also successfully realized as the team scored 18 fast-break points while holding Central Connecticut to only two points in transition. Nneka Enemkpali recorded her fourth straight double-double of the season, finishing the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

First Half: The Longhorns came out scoring from everywhere on their way to 51 first-half points. This total was the most Texas has scored in the opening stanza since posting 51 against UTPA in 2010. Texas continued its low-post dominance by controlling the paint en route to 32 points down low to Central Connecticut’s four. Chassidy Fussell buoyed the scoring charge with 12 points while Imani McGee-Stafford controlled the paint on defense with three blocks.

Second Half: Texas didn’t slow up in the second half, shooting 64 percent from the field while holding Central Connecticut to only 34 percent. Texas’ five second-half 3-pointers sealed the deal. McGee-Stafford continued her defensive dominance in the half, recording six more blocks to finish the game with nine.

McGee-Stafford saw her stock skyrocket after her 13 point, seven rebound and nine block performance. The nine blocks were the most recorded by a Longhorn since Ashley Gayle racked up 10 on December 28, 2010. After a double-double in her last game, the freshman showcased her prowess and potential on the defensive end to reveal herself as a player to watch for the rest of Texas’ season.

What’s Next
The Longhorns have showcased their offensive efficiency inside and outside on their way to a 4-0 start this season. The squad will return to get back to the practice floor for five days before its next battle against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Nov. 30.

Printed on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 as: Enemkpali and McGee-Stafford solid for Texas