Texas' Kelsey Lang (40) celebrates and Brooke McCarty (11) are two reasons Texas is off to a 15-0 start this year. (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Women's Basketball

Longhorns’ quick starts add up to 4-0 start in Big 12

Texas outscoring conference foes by 21.5 ppg.

Posted January 12th, 2016

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  • Quick-starting Longhorns have trailed for a total of 16 seconds in Big 12 Conference play.

As a habit, Karen Aston grabs herself a cup of coffee roughly 30 minutes before tip-off in order to send a jolt through her system.

That pre-game boost apparently has rubbed off on her players, too. Focused and itching to play, the Texas women’s basketball team has bolted to a 4-0 start in Big 12 play while putting together incredibly fast starts in each game.

In those four victories — 160 total minutes of playing time — the Longhorns have trailed for a mere 16 seconds.

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Iowa State grabbed a 3-0 lead on Jan. 6, when Seanna Johnson sank a three-pointer in the first minute of a game at the Erwin Center. It took 16 seconds for Brooke McCarty to tie it with a three-pointer of her own, and the Horns rolled to a surprisingly easy 75-54 victory.

Her players often poke fun at Aston for her large consumption of java throughout the day, but for the Longhorns and their Big 12 opponents, UT’s quick getaways have been no laughing matter.

“The team has developed a mentality in practice that when we get going, they treat it like it’s the beginning of a game,” Aston said Tuesday. “They have learned that (starting fast) helps with their confidence, and they take pride in it.”

The fourth-ranked Longhorns (15-0) are riding high in the Big 12, outscoring their first four opponents by an average of 21.5 points a game. Their average halftime lead has been 15 points.

Texas has the benefit of a deep and talented roster, led by senior post Imani Boyette and senior guard Empress Davenport. The Horns also are blessed with an precocious group of young standouts, led by sophomore guards Brooke McCarty and Ariel Atkins, freshman forward Jordan Hosey and freshman guard Lashann Higgs.

Overall, the Longhorns qualify as mentally tougher and more mature than the group that finished 24-11 last season and reached the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament, Aston said.

Longtime Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly was impressed by how UT’s role players responded when given an opportunity to play.

“Some of those Texas kids came off the bench and were attacking the glass,” he said. “It looked like there were seven white jerseys (on the court) a couple of times. That’s a credit to their staff and to their kids. They’re going to be a tough out for a lot of people.”

Texas junior forward Kelsey Lang agreed with her coach that the Longhorns have developed a maturity that was lacking last season. Despite a 13-0 start a year ago, Texas limped through the Big 12, finishing 9-9 in conference play.
“We have enough players who know what it takes to win in the Big 12,” Lang said. “The older players are able to help the younger players. We have good team chemistry, and I hope it continues to work for us.”
Texas continues its Big 12 journey with a game Wednesday at Kansas (5-10, 0-4 ). The matchup should serve as a tuneup for the most intriguing home game to date for Texas, a Sunday showdown against defending Big 12 champion Baylor.
Despite her team’s impressive start, Aston will not get tangled in the hype. As she has said multiple times, “We haven’t done anything yet.”
“In this business, you’re judged by how you do in the post-season and by winning championships.”
Games in February and March will go a long way toward determining how these Longhorns will be remembered, and the real season will be here soon enough.
Time for Aston to brew another pot of coffee.

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