Down the stretch, Texas knew it had to go to its scorer.
Junior guard Ariel Atkins poured in 17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and Texas added to its best conference start in program history with a narrow 77-69 win over TCU on Wednesday night in Fort Worth.
The No. 12 Longhorns improved to 9–0 in conference play, tied for first atop the Big 12 alongside No. 2 Baylor. The team hasn’t dropped a game since its Dec. 4 loss to Connecticut, the reigning national champion.
Since then, Texas has bullied its way to 13-straight victories, with an average margin of victory of 19.1 points.
Wednesday proved to be a different story. Despite controlling the glass, an advantage at the free throw line kept the Horned Frogs in the contest all night. The team shot 21-of-25 from the line to the Longhorns’ 5-of-11.
Head coach Karen Aston worried about playing TCU on the road long before the two teams tipped off last night.
“TCU is a trip that we’ve taken the last couple of years that hasn’t been a very pretty one actually,” Aston said in a press conference Tuesday.
Aston’s fears proved valid as Texas battled for every point in the narrow victory. The game marked the second victory for Texas over TCU — the first came Jan. 7 in Austin by a 29-point margin.
In spite of a few close calls, Texas has dominated TCU historically, with most games resembling the blowout earlier this month. The Longhorns earned their sixth consecutive victory over the Horned Frogs, who fell to 2–7 in conference play. In 42 meetings, the Longhorns have only dropped two games to the Big 12 foe.
Texas continued to command the glass as it has all season long, out-rebounding the smaller TCU 41-36. The Longhorn squad is ranked No. 4 in the nation in rebounding margin, thanks in large part to senior center Kelsey Lang and freshman forward Joyner Holmes. The duo is averaging a combined 16 rebounds per game and have helped Texas win the rebound battle in 17 of its 19 season games.
The two teams battled back and forth in the third before sophomore guard Lashann Higgs nailed a jumper with four seconds left to put Texas up by five entering the
After TCU cut the margin to two midway through the fourth, Atkins ripped off seven straight points for Texas to give the Longhorns a 67-60 advantage.
The seven-point lead proved to be the tipping point, and TCU never narrowed the lead in the final minutes of
Texas continues conference play Sunday with a home game against West Virginia. The two teams hit the hardwood at 3 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.