For the Longhorns, finding a light at the end of the dark tunnel of this season has been difficult. But tonight, that light could come in the form of proper decision making in a critical conference game against Texas A&M.
“It’s all about our decision making,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “Our effort is fine; I don’t have a problem with that. Now we’ve got to make better decisions.”
Texas (11-6, 0-3) arrives in College Station today, in the midst of a three-game losing streak — all against Big 12 opponents — with their most recent loss stemming from an overtime heartbreaker against No. 14 Oklahoma.
This season, the Longhorns have been continually plagued by turnovers and a lack of transition play. Last Sunday’s game against the Sooners was no different as the Longhorns turned the ball over 23 times. Tonight’s game features a No. 6 Aggie squad who leads the nation in turnover margin, forcing their most recent opponent, Missouri, to 18 turnovers in the first half of play.
In what will be the 79th meeting between Texas and Texas A&M, the Longhorns must adapt to the physicality of the Aggies’ game. The last time the two squads met, back in March of 2010, Texas A&M capitalized on an impressive second-half run to send Texas packing in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
“Texas A&M has a lot of talent and they’ve been the most physical team in the Big 12 from top-to-bottom,” Goestenkors said. “Our players have not handled the physicalness of their game very well in the past. We’ve lost our poise, we’ve lost our composure.”
But while Goestenkors’ squad has been losing, many players have continued to shine. Freshman Chassidy Fussell leads the way in points per game for the squad, averaging a team-best 20 points per game in Texas’ last three games. Senior Kathleen Nash has been averaging 15.6 points per game, followed by juniors Ashleigh Fontenette with 14.1 and Yvonne Anderson with 11.8. The Longhorns are the only squad in the Big 12 Conference with three top-20 scorers.
“We’re close, we’ve just got to get over the hump,” Goestenkors said. “We are finding a way to play really hard, and play together, but now we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Finding a way to win against a Texas A&M squad that boasts an impressive 15-1 record will prove to be a true test for Texas. The Aggies are off to their best Big 12 Conference play start in the program’s history at 3-0.
“We’ve just got to gear up and go and put 100 percent into the Texas game,” said Aggie head coach Gary Blair on Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “It’s fun to play Texas. We know they’re going to give us their best.”
The in-state rivals meet tonight for not only an opportunity to add an additional win to their record, but also a valuable 0.5 points to their overall total for the State Farm Lone Star Showdown, in its seventh season. Texas currently leads Texas A&M this season by a count of four to two.
Rivalry aside, Goestenkors hopes her team can pull themselves out of their slump.
“Texas A&M plays great defense and shares the ball well,” Goestenkors said. “Against great teams, you need to take advantage of every opportunity; you find a way to win.”