Ames

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

No. 17 Texas fell 75–62 against No. 11 Kansas on Saturday — the team’s second home loss in the first half of conference play. This defeat puts the Longhorns at 3-3 in Big 12 play before their upcoming trip to Ames, Iowa, to take on No. 9 Iowa State on Monday. Here are a few notes from Saturday’s loss:

Isaiah Taylor has returned

Since suffering a broken left wrist, sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor hasn’t looked like the player who was torching teams as a freshman last year — at least not until Saturday. Taylor finished the night with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He fearlessly attacked the rim and, from the beginning, looked in control of the game. He also added five rebounds, while committing just one turnover.

Texas’ poor shooting

It’s hard to win games when the team can’t shoot, and that’s what Texas head coach Rick Barnes had to work with Saturday. Texas finished just 3-of-18 from deep, and that’s not even counting the number of long two-point jump shots that couldn’t find the bottom. Junior guard Javan Felix, one of the Longhorns’ better shooters, shot 0-of-6 from the field. Sharp-shooting recruits Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis can’t hit the 40 Acres soon enough for Texas fans.

No help from the bench

At the beginning of the season, Barnes’ team looked like one of his deepest yet. On Saturday, the bench had 8 points — all from freshman forward Myles Turner. Felix had zero. Sophomore guard Kendal Yancy had zero. Junior center Prince Ibeh had zero. Kansas, on the other hand, had 31 bench points.

“We were a deep team today,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “Eight guys that really contributed.”

Barnes couldn’t say the same.

Kansas’ ball security

While totaling 13 assists, Kansas committed a surprisingly low three turnovers — more impressively, the Jayhawks didn’t have any in the second half.

“Our offensive efficiency was the best it’s been all year,” Self said.

Texas didn’t turn the ball over much either — just nine times — but the Jayhawks didn’t need to rely on Texas turnovers to get points on the other end. They were working the defense with the pass and using the middle of the paint to get where they wanted.

Feed the bigs

“I’m disappointed in the fact we settled for so many jump shots,” Barnes said.

And that pretty much sums up his frustration with Texas’ inability to feed the post. It took seven minutes for Texas to even get a touch to a big man down low, which is what it should be doing all game long. Junior center Cam Ridley ended with just four shot attempts. For the Longhorns to beat high-quality opponents, they need to get the ball down low, and Taylor knows it.

“We got to do a better job of feeding the post,” Taylor said.

After a well-earned bye week, the No. 5 Longhorns begin their first postseason as a combined program with the Big 12 Indoor Championships in Ames, Iowa.

At this point in the season, individual times take a back seat to the ultimate goal of beating the competitor in the next lane.

“I feel heading into the conference meet that we are right where we need to be,” first-year head coach Mario Sategna said. “We’re going in there not worrying about time, distances, performances. It’s about beating people head-to-head.”

Texas faces tough competition, including No. 12 Texas Tech and host No. 20 Iowa State. But with the top 4x400 meter relay team in the nation and junior pole vaulter Kaitlin Petrillose — who looks to claim her third-straight conference title — the Longhorns possess the tools necessary to outperform their competitors and bring home a conference championship.

The Longhorns travel to Ames, Iowa, this weekend for the most important meet so far this season — the Big 12 Championship. 

The 26 athletes competing are looking not only to defend Texas’ conference title, but also to capture spots in the national meet by recording top-16 marks in their single events.

While junior shot putter Ryan Crouser has essentially earned his spot in the national meet as the top-ranked thrower in the country, several other Longhorns are toeing the line for national placement.

Sophomore pole vaulter Reese Watson, sophomore 400-meter runner Zack Bilderback and freshman Senoj-Jay Givans in the 60 meters are ranked 14th, 15th and 16th, respectively, in their individual events.

But there’s still work to be done in order to solidify their place in the national meet. The country’s best athletes will be unleashed this weekend for postseason events, and the Texas trio will likely need to exceed its best marks in order to retain a top-16 spot.

Men's Tennis

The Texas track and field program competed at both the Razorback Invitational and the Bill Bergan Invitational over the weekend, posting strong results without sending complete squads.

The short-distance women went to Ames, Iowa, for the Bergan Invitational and won each of the four events they entered.

But the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Fayetteville, where senior distance runner Sara Sutherland won the women’s 3,000-meter in convincing fashion with the third-best time in school history.

“[Sutherland] knocked it out of the park,” head coach Mario Sategna said. 

Sutherland led the entire race and finished 18 seconds ahead of second-place teammate, senior Marielle Hall.

Sophomore Zack Bilderback dominated the men’s competition as he won the 400-meter at the Bergan invitational with a personal-best time of 46.98. 

The squad will return to Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

Women's Tennis

The wind persisted throughout Texas’ meeting against Stanford, ultimately blowing in favor of the Cardinal, as the team beat the Longhorns, 6-1.

No. 17 Texas (3-1) came into this match without losing more than one point against its first three opponents.

The Cardinal, ranked No. 1, fared better than that, with no points lost through its first two matches.

Stanford claimed the doubles point with wins by its two top-16 tandems. No. 15 Kristie Ahn/Carol Zhao knocked off No. 21 Breaunna Addison/Pippa Horn, 6-2.

Senior Elizabeth Begley dropped her match at No. 2 singles (6-2, 6-0). Freshmen Neda Koprcina and Horn lost their matches as well, giving Stanford the victory.

Though the match was already decided, freshman Ratnika Batra continued her round against No. 34 Caroline Doyle. Batra prevented a Cardinal sweep with a 6-2, 6-3 win.

The Longhorns will travel to Charlottesville, Va., on Friday to compete in the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.

Track and Field

The Texas track and field program competed at both the Razorback Invitational and the Bill Bergan Invitational over the weekend, posting strong results without sending complete squads.

The short-distance women went to Ames, Iowa, for the Bergan invitational and won each of the four events they entered.

But the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Fayetteville, where senior distance runner Sara Sutherland won the women’s 3,000-meter in convincing fashion with the third-best time in school history.

“[Sutherland] knocked it out of the park,” head coach Mario Sategna said in a statement. 

Sutherland led the entire race and finished 18 seconds ahead of second-place teammate, senior Marielle Hall.

Sophomore Zack Bilderback dominated the men’s competition as he won the 400-meter at the Bergan invitational with a personal-best time of 46.98. 

The squad will return to Albuquerque, N.M., on Friday for the New Mexico Collegiate Classic.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

If Texas were ever in need of a winning streak, it’s now. Fresh off their bye week after a 31-21 win over Kansas State, the Longhorns now head to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State. Although few people have called this game a must-win for head coach Mack Brown, it surely is.

On paper, this appears to be a favorable matchup for the Longhorns for several reasons. First, the tangibles: Texas has been awful against the run this year, evident to anyone who witnessed its debacle against BYU. Up to this point, the Longhorns have yielded 1,041 rushing yards in four games, an average of 260 per outing. But luckily for Texas, the Cyclones don’t feature a ground-and-pound, bruising running style. In fact, they have only run for 406 yards through their first three games, averaging just 3.6 yards-per-carry. Add this to Texas’ most recent outing, an impressive defensive performance in which it held Kansas State to 115 rushing yards, and Longhorn fans can breathe easier.

Factoring in sophomore running back Johnathan Gray and the plethora of secondary runners the Longhorns have, it’s clear they hold the advantage when it comes to the run game. Gray has been nothing short of spectacular, averaging more than five yards-per-carry while topping 90 yards in each of the past three games, including last week’s 141-yard, two-touchdown performance. As a team, Texas has run for 842 yards, a 210 yard-per-game average, while the Cyclones have allowed nearly 180 per contest.

Things get murkier when analyzing both teams’ passing attacks, especially with junior quarterback David Ash out with a recurring head injury. If senior quarterback Case McCoy gets the nod, expect the Longhorns to keep it conservative. McCoy has been efficient but hardly explosive this year, sporting a 63 percent completion rate but averaging less than six yards per attempt. If he can generate any sort of downfield attack against the Cyclones, who have given up six passing touchdowns through the air, the running lanes should open up for Gray and company.

On the other hand, Cyclones’ quarterback Sam Richardson is the key to his team’s success. In addition to throwing for more than 750 yards and seven touchdowns in three games this year, he has run for 111 yards. But he should face some tough sledding against a Texas secondary that boasts talented corners junior Quandre Diggs and senior Carrington Byndom. Although the Longhorns have only recorded two interceptions this season, they could add to that total against Richardson, who has thrown three.

And then there are the intangibles of this matchup. The Longhorns are 8-1 all time against the Cyclones under Brown, their sole loss coming in an embarrassing 28-21 defeat in 2010. Texas hasn’t just beaten the Cyclones, it has blown them away. Its average margin of victory has been more than three touchdowns, with the Longhorns scoring more than 37 points on six separate occasions. 

This history, combined with Brown’s perfect record in Ames, has all signs pointing toward a Texas victory on Thursday night.

Heavy competition awaits the No. 13 Longhorns Saturday and Sunday in Ames, Iowa, for the Big 12 Indoor Championships.

Texas will send a group of 24 to compete against a field that includes three other teams in the conference ranked in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association: No. 5 Kansas, No. 12 Iowa State and No. 22 Oklahoma State.

Since the League was established in 1996, Texas has won a conference-best five Big 12 indoor team titles on the women’s side.

“This group is in such an excellent place both mentally and physically,” interim coach Rose Brimmer said. “If we put every race on the track at the level that we know we are capable of competing, I think it’s going to be an exciting weekend.”

The Longhorns' 4X400-meter relay team of junior Danielle Dowie, junior Briana Nelson, senior Kendra Chambers and freshman Courtney Okolo enters the weekend with the best time nationally (3:30.95) among the collegiate ranks in 2013. The squad also heads to Iowa with a conference-best high jump mark (6-2/1.88m) from junior Shanay Briscoe and a No. 2 mark from junior Christy Udoh in the
200-meter dash (23.87).

The Longhorns will look to improve on last year’s second-place team finish.

Preview

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Coming off another 20-plus point performance where she connected on a career-high five 3-pointers, sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell knows that it takes more than just a hot shooting night to win games in the Big 12.

“You can play offense all you want,” Fussell said. “But if you don’t get stops you aren’t going to win the game.”

That caveat rings true after the Longhorns’ most recent conference loss to Kansas State. At 3-6 in conference play Texas now finds itself six games behind the Big 12 leader, No. 1 Baylor. The Longhorns have now lost six of their last nine games and are quickly fading from the NCAA Tournament picture.

The next stop on the Longhorns’ schedule takes them to Ames, Iowa to face the Cyclones. The last time these two teams met in Austin on Jan. 18, Texas escaped with a 62-60 win on a buzzer-beating shot from senior guard Yvonne Anderson.

The Cyclones also own a 3-6 record in the Big 12 and, like the Longhorns, have been in some closely contested games lately. The Cyclones’ most recent loss came at the hands of No. 13 Texas A&M. The Aggies were almost upset, but emerged victorious, 66-64. The Cyclones had lost five straight games after the Longhorns ousted them in Austin, but have won three of their last four, so they are starting to figure things out.

“Every team in our league has gone through winning streaks and losing streaks,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “You find out what you’re made of when you go through adversity, and this team always responds to adversity.”

Texas has struggled getting the ball to its posts recently, but Goestenkors has made it clear that this will become a focus for her team as the season wears on.

“I think what Coach (Goestenkors) said — having a post presence — is important,” said senior guard Ashleigh Fontenette. “We’re going to have to work on that more.”

The Longhorns held the Cyclones to 35 percent shooting in their first meeting, and will have to keep the Cyclones off the glass if they are to win in Ames. Fussell also scored 20 points in that first matchup Jan. 18, and could be in line for another big night. She’ll need help from Anderson and her post players as well.

“We also have to get to the offensive glass more because offensive rebounds will get you more points as well,” Goestenkors said.

Printed on Friday, February 3, 2012 as: Fussell hopes to lead team out of drought