Their biggest conference test has yet to come, but the No. 12 Longhorns aren’t getting too ahead of themselves.
Texas defeated No. 22 West Virginia 69-54 on Sunday afternoon to extend its winning streak to 14. All victories and streaks aside, head coach Karen Aston stressed the importance of not getting too carried away with future matchups — including two against No. 2 Baylor this month.
“It is really imperative that we continue to approach every game one at a time,” Aston said. “I think that’s been almost like our mantra. Let’s not worry about anything else but what tomorrow is about.”
Wednesday’s matchup between the Cowgirls (13–7, 3–6 Big 12) and Longhorns (16–4, 10–0) marks the second of the season. Texas handed Oklahoma State a 31-point loss on Jan. 10 in the first meeting — its biggest victory in conference play. While the Longhorns are looking to sweep Oklahoma State for the second-straight year, Aston thinks the Cowgirls are in a better place now than they were when the two teams first squared off in Austin.
“Going to OSU, it’s always a tough place to play,” Aston said. “They’re playing better, they’re playing really good basketball right now. Everybody is playing for something and they’re playing the kind of basketball right now that looks like they’ve sort of turned the corner.”
Oklahoma State will try to bounce back from a 74-69 loss to Kansas State on Saturday. The Cowgirls started their season with a 10-game winning streak, but that early success hasn’t translated well in conference play.
Junior center Kaylee Jensen leads the way for the Cowgirls, averaging 19 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. As the league’s premier double-double threat, Jensen stands as one of only 23 players in the nation to record 11 or more this season.
Despite beginning the season with a dubious 2-4 record, Texas is working in strides to turn out a monster season highlighted by a 10–0 conference record for the first time in program history. Aston’s team capped off a perfect month of January after Sunday’s home win against West Virginia.
The Longhorns still have room for improvement. They keep their focus on the next game at hand, but their eyes always remain on a longterm goal — reaching the Final Four just a short 196 miles away in Dallas.
“We have a lot more ahead of us, but I’m excited about the way that we’re handling our day-to-day activities,” Aston said. “I think we have so much more room for growth. If we’re trying to build towards having a good run in the tournament and all those things we hope we can do, then we have to keep getting better.”
A big development for the Longhorns is the rising of contributions from sophomore guard Lashann Higgs. Higgs provides depth on the defensive end and her explosiveness allows her to come off the bench and spark up the court.
“(Lashann) can defend, she can score from anywhere, she can just do everything,” junior guard Brooke McCarty said. “I think she kind of brings that energy off the bench that we really need. She just kind of is that lockup player. She knows her role and she knows exactly what to do and when to attack.”
Action between Texas and Oklahoma State begins on Wednesday at 7 p.m.