Aston, Boyette look to bounce back against Kansas State

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Senior center Imani Boyette has been in a slump recently, only averaging 5.75 points per game in Texas’ last four contests.

Photo Credit: Gabriel Lopez | Daily Texan Staff

Following No. 8 Texas’ 56–74 loss to No. 20 Oklahoma, head coach Karen Aston had a decision to make.

After being outscored 29–7 in the fourth quarter, outrebounded 45–38 and tallying seven turnovers compared to ten assists, Aston said she contemplated all Sunday night over whether to watch film from the game or burn it.

“Ultimately, we decided as a staff we needed to look at it,” Aston said. “Sometimes when you’re in a rut, like I think we’ve kind of been in, maybe they’re tired of hearing you and they need to look at something that doesn’t look very good.” 

Aston saw uncharacteristic mistakes — lackadaisical defense, lack of togetherness and low assists. She said the overall lack of energy was evident well before the Oklahoma loss on Feb. 14.

“I think I said this a week or so ago that I didn’t quite see the fire in our bellies like we have had,” Aston said.   

Even with fading energy over the past few games, the Longhorns managed to shoot their way out of trouble. Against Oklahoma, they had no such luck. Texas (22-2, 11-2 Big 12) shot just 18-of-62 from the field — a season-low 29 percent.  

In addition to the poor shooting, the Longhorns’ bigs provided no easy baskets in the paint. Senior center Imani Boyette finished with just eight points on 2-of-12 shooting. Aston said the Naismith finalist has been in a slump lately.

“I would say right now that she has a little bit of a lack of confidence in herself,” Aston said. “She missed some shots today that she would usually never miss.” 

Boyette’s slump started at Kansas State on Jan. 30, where she fouled out after just 15 minutes of action. The Los Angeles native was held scoreless the following game against Iowa State.

Over the past four games, Boyette is averaging 5.75 points per game. On the season, she averages 12.4 points a game. Despite the lack of offensive production, Aston said the answer to Boyette’s trouble is simple. 

“Imani just needs to play basketball,” Aston said. “I think she may have been putting too much pressure, too many expectations on herself and Imani’s never been great when she expected too much of herself. And that’s not a negative at all about Imani.”

Aston said she expects Boyette and the rest of the team to bounce back Wednesday when Kansas State (16-8, 6-7 Big 12) rolls into town. But with the Wildcats riding a two-game winning streak — including a win over Oklahoma — rebounding after the loss to the Sooners won’t be an easy task.

“They have a great player in the paint with Bre Lewis, and they have several guards who can shoot the basketball,” Aston said. “It’ll be a challenge for us in a lot of ways, but I expect us to be ready to play.”