The No. 8 Longhorns look to build on a big-time home performance heading into Sunday’s matchup against a physical Mississippi State team.
After beating Houston Baptist 98–46 Wednesday, the team travels to Starkville, Mississippi, to take on the Bulldogs for its second away game of the season. The matchup is one of three road games in the Longhorns’ next 10 contests.
Texas won narrowly in last year’s home game against Mississippi State, coming away with a six-point, 53-47 victory. This year, the Longhorns hope to maintain defensive consistency as the team searches for cohesion on both ends of the court.
“We do have some things that we will have to really dramatically improve on before we get to Sunday,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I think the players understand that preparation is really important.”
Aston recognizes the importance of an elite defense to the team’s lofty aspirations. She also knows there is no reason this year’s young, athletic squad can’t perform at that level.
“The one thing that I think we can do if we’ll commit to it is putting pressure defensively on a team for 40 minutes,” Aston said. “There’s just no excuse for why we can’t do that, because we have depth at every position.”
Wednesday’s win against Houston Baptist demonstrated some of the team’s defensive potential, as the Longhorns forced six turnovers in the first 10 minutes and showed off an impressive full-court press en route to a blowout victory. The game contrasted Texas’ lackluster defensive effort in its season-opening loss to No. 11 Stanford; the team allowed 71 points to the Cardinal on 54 percent shooting.
Junior guard Brooke McCarty finished with 16 points and 4 assists against Houston Baptist, embracing her increased role as both a scorer and a playmaker. She said she’s expecting a grueling game after last year’s matchup, when she logged 37 minutes.
“I remember most the competitiveness of the game,” McCarty said. “They’re pretty tough on defense, and they’re very physical. They played like that all game.”
Texas looks to pick up some momentum and work out some kinks before facing its next ranked opponent in No. 4 South Carolina on Dec. 1. Texas can enter the matchup with a two-game win streak with a win over the Bulldogs. Aston said she’s emphasized matching Mississippi’s intensity on both ends to avoid a letdown.
“The biggest thing is you have to be really tough, mentally and physically,” Aston said. “They play in a very physical league, and they try to kind of bully you a bit.”
Texas and Mississippi State tip off on Sunday at 5 p.m.