Longhorns hope for big crowd as they host No. 3 South Carolina

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

The No. 14 Longhorns have a loaded weekend on deck.

Texas hosts No. 3 South Carolina on Thursday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge before hitting the road to take on No. 2 Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic. The two games will mark the Longhorns’ third and fourth top-15 matchups of the early season. 

Head coach Karen Aston said the Longhorns’ rigorous non-conference schedule, which includes five opponents currently ranked in the top 25, allows the team ­— especially the young players — to prepare for the depth they’ll face when it comes time for conference play.

“[It’s] good for our team to go on the road [and] to be able to play the type of opponents that we’re gonna see day in and day out in the Big 12,” Aston said. “I do think our league may be as good as it’s been since I’ve been here.”

The Longhorns have a winning history while playing on their home court, posting a 48–5 record since the start of the 2013-14 season. And after dropping two tough games on the road to ranked opponents, the Longhorns are excited to take on a top-5 opponent in front of their home crowd.  

“You’re always excited to bring a game of this caliber and a team of the caliber of South Carolina on our campus and in the Erwin Center,” Aston said. “It should be a
great environment.”

Senior center Kelsey Lang said the home court advantage and the strength of the burnt orange crowd will play a huge role for Texas as it faces a poised South Carolina team.

“We’ve been trying to get more and more fans each game throughout my entire career here,” Lanh said. ”I think that for Thursday, we would love to have a full lower-section and have students there supporting us. I just think it would make for such a great
environment for us to play in.”

Equipped with a mature starting lineup, South Carolina boasts a perfect 5–0 record this year. Senior center Alaina Coates has posted four double-doubles in five games for the Gamecocks while averaging a team-high 16.6 points and 12.8 rebounds. The Gamecocks have four players on their roster averaging 14-plus points this season, contributing to an efficient scoring offense that ranks No. 8 in country.

Thursday’s showdown also marks the third top-15 matchup for South Carolina this season. The Gamecocks picked up a season-opening win over then-No. 7 Ohio State on Nov. 14 and are currently coming off a 83-59 victory over then-No. 4 Louisville on Sunday. 

The Longhorns have had just over a week to prepare for South Carolina since defeating Northwestern State 86-39 on Nov. 23.

They look to junior guard Brooke McCarty, who leads the Longhorns in scoring with 16.3 points per game. Junior guard Ariel Atkins and freshman forward Joyner Holmes join McCarty as the team’s double-digit scorers, averaging 13.5 and 11.5, respectively. 

Texas and South Carolina tip off at 6 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.