Texas guard Brooke McCarty (11) eyes the basket during a NCAA women's college basketball game against Stetson at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Injury-saddled Texas women host Florida State in final Big 12 tuneup

Posted December 16th, 2017

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Texas might face one of its toughest opponents of the season without the Big 12 player of the year on the court.

Brooke McCarty missed Wednesday’s game against Northwestern State with a minor hip injury and skipped the team’s two-hour workout on Friday. Texas coach Karen Aston faces a tough decision if the senior guard is cleared to play against Florida State on Sunday at the Erwin Center.

“Is one game worth a few more days of rest?” Aston said.

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If McCarty does not play — she’ll be a game-time decision, Aston said — she will have 11 extra days to prepare for the next game, which just happens to be the Big 12 opener Dec. 28 at Oklahoma.

Aston described McCarty as the team’s floor general, but she has three capable guards ready to work — senior Ariel Atkins, junior Lashann Higgs and sophomore Sug Sutton.

“It’s always been a next-man-up mentality in sports,” the coach said.

Texas head coach Karen Aston talks with guard Brooke McCarty (11) during a NCAA women’s college basketball game against Stetson at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

McCarty is not the only player in burnt orange who might miss the game. Junior forward Jordan Hosey remains under concussion protocol and post Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau left Friday’s practice early with back spasms, though she’s expected to be back for the game. Her sister, junior forward Khaleann Caron-Goudreau, remains out indefinitely with a foot injury.

It’s doubtful that No. 12 Florida State (10-0) will take pity on No. 8 Texas (8-1). The Longhorns defeated the Seminoles 92-88 in a double-overtime thriller last season in Tallahassee, a game that still resonates with players and coaches from both teams.

“I remember that game because it’s the first time I’d ever played double-overtime, and I remember that half the team fouled out,” Higgs recalled. “Florida State is coming to our house with fire. They’re looking to beat us and we’ll have to match their intensity and level of play.”

After four players fouled out, the Longhorns received clutch performances from role players such as Jada Underwood, Hosey and Olamide Aborawa in the second overtime period to pull it out.

“Last year we felt that one got away from us, and I’m excited to go back, especially with the group of girls we have now and just compete at a high level,” said Florida State guard Imani Wright, a transfer from Baylor. “I love games like this so I’m excited for it.”

With UT’s current injury situation, it might take a similar effort from the bench for the Longhorns to survive.

Aston said this might open playing opportunities for her three freshmen — forward Rellah Boothe and guards Destiny Littleton at Chasity Patterson.

“The freshmen seem to be locked in a little better right now,” Aston said after Friday’s practice.

The Florida State game will round out a successful non-conference schedule for the Longhorns, a team that was ranked No. 2 in the nation before last Sunday’s loss at Tennessee.

NOTES: The first 1,000 fans at Sunday’s contest receive a free T-shirt featuring McCarty’s image. … Following the game, the Texas staff and student-athletes invite kids to improve their basketball skills by taking part in the annual Longhorns Kids Clinic. The hour-long clinic is open to all youth (8th grade and under) and begins 10 minutes after the game.

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