No. 12 Longhorns set sights on Texas Tech

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Senior guard Brianna Taylor fights off Oklahoma State defenders on Jan. 10. Taylor didn’t attempt a shot in Tuesday’s win over Oklahoma, but she snagged 11 total rebounds. 

Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

The No. 12 Longhorns head to Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday looking to improve to 8–0 in Big 12 play. They’ll have to take down the Red Raiders for a second time this season to remain undefeated.

The team enters the matchup riding an 11-game winning streak extending back to Dec. 11, including a closely fought battle over No. 20 Oklahoma on Tuesday. Texas erupted late in the game and grabbed an 18-point triumph over the Sooners. 

Texas sits tied for first place atop the conference alongside No. 2 Baylor. The Bears beat up on the Longhorns three times last season and appears to be Texas’ most formidable foe yet again. But head coach Karen Aston’s team remains focused on its immediate task ahead: Texas Tech.

“I feel very confident in our team but I know that we’re in no place to be complacent,” senior guard Brianna Taylor said. “I know that we’re steadily in the gym and we’re getting better every day. But we just have to take it one game at a time, and I think that’s what we’re doing right now.” 

In the first meeting between the two programs, Texas bullied its way to a 67-47 home win. The Longhorns outrebounded a smaller Texas Tech team by a 49-28 margin. 

Texas senior center Kelsey Lang finished with a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with eight points and two assists. In her final year, Lang is averaging 10.7 rebounds per game in conference play — she leads the nation in that category. 

Assisting Lang in the team’s rebounding dominance is frontcourt teammate Joyner Holmes, who ended Tuesday’s game against the Sooners with 20 points and 10 rebounds — her third double-double of the season. 

Holmes’ steady improvement throughout her freshman season has been crucial to the team’s recent success. She is one of three players for Texas averaging double digits in scoring, while pulling down 7.1 boards per game.  

“I’m proud that she’s starting to take rebounding seriously because I’m not sure that was part of her understanding of how good she could be if she added that to her game,” Aston said. “And I think she’s starting to understand that’s a part of who she is and she can be really vital for us in that area.” 

Texas has won the rebound battle in 15 of its last 17 games and is on its way to the third-highest rebound margin in the nation at plus-12.2. Texas’ only four losses of the season have all come against opponents ranked in the AP Top 10, but two of its most recent wins have been against teams ranked in the Top 25.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech fell to 3–3 in conference play with a 66-45 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. The Red Raiders struggled to put points on the board against the Sooners and currently rank No. 83 in the nation in scoring, averaging 71 points per game. 

The Longhorns still aren’t overlooking the Red Raiders ahead of the matchup Saturday evening. The only win that matters to junior guard Ariel Atkins and her teammates is the next one — they aren’t focused on extending their historic winning streak. 

“Honestly I don’t even think we mention it because like [Taylor] said, it’s one game at a time, one day at a time,” Atkins said. “We know what we wanna do and it’s gonna take a lot of hard work.” 

Tipoff time for the Longhorns and Red Raiders is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday.