The Longhorns finally ran out of time — a fitting ending to a rebuilding season.
Texas (12-18, 5-13) dropped their final game of the season to Kansas State 51-49 in the first round of the Big 12 Championships in Dallas. The teams were about as close as possible on every section of the stat sheet, but the Wildcats ended the Longhorns’ season on a buzzer beating lay-up.
The game began with the Longhorns struggling to find open shots as the Wildcats did a solid job of forcing the ball out of the paint for a dominant Longhorn front court. Despite the blanket Kansas State used to foil the Texas game plan, the Longhorns only trailed 27-17 at halftime.
In the second half the teams traded shot for shot for the first ten minutes before the Longhorns took their first lead since the opening minute of the game, 38-37 at the 7:59 mark. The Longhorns kept the lead for much of the final eight minutes, but Brittany Chambers scored two of her game-high 20 points in the final seconds to capture a Wildcat win.
Texas shot 33.8 percent to Kansas State’s 35.3 percent from the field, grabbing 39 rebounds to the Wildcat’s 38. The Longhorns even tallied their lowest turnovers total of the season with six, compared to Kansas State’s 16.
However, time simply ran out with another opportunity lost.
Imani McGee-Stafford led the Longhorns in the contest with 15 points and 10 rebounds to record her team-leading 13th double-double of the season. The game capped off a tremendous freshman season for McGee-Stafford, who was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and All-Big 12 First Team a few days before.
Nneka Enemkpali chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, which left her short of her 14th double-double for the season. Enemkpali provided the backbone for the strong Longhorn front court all season long, finishing the year averaging 13 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Junior Chassidy Fussell ended the season averaging a team-best 14.2 points per game but saw her shooting talent come and go throughout the year. Fussell has been the veteran leader for the Longhorns all season and will look to improve on her streaky output in her final season as a Longhorn next year.
Freshman Empress Davenport finished the season averaging 8.3 points while starting 27 of Texas’ 30 games. Redshirt freshman Brady Sanders appeared in all 30 games for the Longhorns and proved to be a valuable go-to scorer for the team, much like Davenport.
In spite of a ninth place finish in the Big 12, the future appears very bright for the Longhorns. Texas emerged as a team that makes its living by attacking the glass, posting a plus 9.2 rebounding margin against its opponents, which was good enough for 10th in the nation.
Although the Longhorns let a lot of winnable games slip away, and did themselves no favors with an average of 20.3 turnovers per game, they received valuable experience and minutes from young players who are poised to flourish in seasons to come.
Although Karen Aston will be forced to deal with a lot of miscues and mistakes when examining the game film of her first season as Texas’ head coach, she has a lot of positives to look back on as well.
It wasn’t a pretty season by any stretch of the imagination, but flashes of dominance and resiliency to go along with the return of all of its players next season should give the Longhorns nothing but hope.
Published on March 18, 2013 as "Kansas State ends rough year".