Longhorns need win over rival Sooners

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Womens Basketball

The last time Texas and Oklahoma met, the two fought an epic back-and-forth battle that culminated in a frustrating 71-67 overtime loss for the Longhorns.

When the unranked Longhorns head to Norman this Saturday to take on the 15th-ranked Sooners, Texas is bringing the same strategy but hoping for a different result.  

“We aren’t really fixing our game plan,” said Texas senior Kathleen Nash.

“Last time we faced them, our shots just weren’t falling, and we didn’t protect the ball. We hung with them for most of the game, but we didn’t finish. We’ve learned how to do that since then.”

This matchup is the first of three straight games against ranked opponents, and with the Longhorns barely breaking .500 in the Big 12 standings, they desperately want to come away with a victory.

“This one is huge. We need every game but especially this game,” Nash said. “They are our rival, and they are a team we know we can hang with.”

Facing a highly ranked opponent is hard, but facing one with one of the nation’s top players is even tougher. Last time around, Oklahoma’s Danielle Robinson started slow but eventually got going and torched the Longhorns for 30 points, seven rebounds and five steals.

“Stopping her was our focus in practice yesterday,” Nash said on Wednesday. “We want to take her out of the game early because she is quick and can change a game.”  

The Longhorns are coming off of a much-needed victory over Nebraska. They are 6-2 since facing the Sooners and have fixed many of the problems that plagued them early in the season — namely, limiting turnovers and grabbing rebounds.

“It just comes with concentrating in practice,” Nash said of Texas’ early season woes. “Now we’ve learned how to maintain a lead, keep our foot to the ground and not let them come back.”

Despite the obvious disparity in their national ranking, Texas and Oklahoma games are usually close ones. Both teams are neck-and-neck in almost every statistical category.

Texas’ 79.6 points a game is the third-best scoring team in the conference. Oklahoma’s 76.4 is fourth. To maintain their miniscule scoring edge, the Longhorns will need production from their top scorer, freshman Chassidy Fussell.

“I think that [Fussell] came in with the attitude that she wanted to contribute right away, and that is definitely what she is doing,” said junior guard Yvonne Anderson. “She is very consistent on the offensive floor.”

Both teams also rank at the very bottom of the Big 12 in scoring defense. Oklahoma yields 65 points a game to Texas’ 68.

Exemplifying the idea of honing “student athletes,” Texas and Oklahoma enter Saturday’s contest featuring 2011 Academic All-Big 12 players, including Nash. Anderson, Ashleigh Fontenette, Ashley Gayle and Sarah Lancaster. Oklahoma placed a Big 12-leading six student athletes on the squad, including Robinson.

Though their similarities abound, Texas is hoping that it can come away from Saturday further differentiating the two teams — with a Texas win and a Sooner loss.