Aston sets higher goals for undefeated Longhorns

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns have taken the court nine times this season. All nine times, they have walked off as winners.

Last year, the Longhorns strung together 14 consecutive victories to begin the season. Head coach Karen Aston’s team ascended to No. 3 in the nation before losing eight of 10 games.

This season, Aston knows that complacency isn’t an option — she wants the team to continue to improve.

“In the big picture, we are doing some things that are pretty good,” Aston said. “But when you really break it down, there are some detail parts of our game that we’re not executing very well.”

In particular, Aston said her squad could do a better job on the boards. The Longhorns out-rebound their opponents by 13.9 per game and are led by senior center Imani Boyette, who snags an average of 9.0 rebounds per contest.

Injuries have plagued Boyette her entire career, however. The senior missed the first eight games of the season last year.

Texas also took a hit last season when then-senior forward Nneka Enemkpali went down with a left knee injury against No. 3 Baylor.

At the time of her injury, Enemkpali lead the Big 12 in rebounds and double-doubles. Boyette already has four double-doubles and records similar rebounding numbers.

Aston said her team has what it takes to avoid a Big 12 meltdown like last year when everybody is healthy.

“There are a lot of mature players who have been through league play and have been through postseason play,” Aston said. “So they have a good understanding of the fact that you have to keep getting better and there are challenges to everything.”

The Longhorns’ most prominent starting lineup — used in five of its first nine games — features three seniors, a junior and a freshman. The freshman, guard Brooke McCarty, is second on the team in points per game with 13.0 — one-tenth of a point behind Boyette.

With two games remaining until the start of Big 12 play, Texas finds itself poised to take a more prepared approach in making a run at a conference title.

First, Longhorns’ undefeated record hangs in the balance against Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in Oklahoma City as part of the Big 12 – SEC Challenge.

“I think they really understand that it adds up a little bit when you go to league play,” Aston said.  “It’s not difficult when you have experience.”