With Kansas in town, No. 21 Texas gets its first chance to respond to a 34-point setback
Whenever she is done playing basketball, Charli Collier would like to get into sports broadcasting.
ESPN is Collier's preferred destination, but the Texas junior knows that you've got to start somewhere. She recently launched an online video series in which she interviews other basketball players. In the first two episodes of "Center Court," Collier chatted with preps phenom Jada Williams and former UT standout Myles Turner. Kevin Durant was a big get earlier this month.
Since Collier has gotten comfortable with asking questions, she was asked to play the role of a reporter during her press availability on Wednesday: If she had a chance, what question would she ask Longhorns head coach Vic Schaefer?
"Coach Schaefer, you got Kansas coming up tomorrow," Collier began. "What separates you from Kansas and how can you take last game's struggles and make them a success in tomorrow's game?"
Collier likely already knows the answer to her question. No. 21 Texas (8-2, 2-1 Big 12) is set to meet Kansas (5-2, 1-0) in an empty Erwin Center on Thursday. The game comes five days after the Longhorns were humiliated in a 92-58 loss at unranked West Virginia.
Of the 25 teams ranked this week by the Associated Press, only No. 11 Arizona, No. 19 DePaul and Texas have suffered a 25-point loss this season. Arizona was beaten 81-57 on New Year's Day by Stanford, which has been ranked No. 1 for the last six weeks. DePaul suffered a 41-point loss in early December to Louisville, which is ranked No. 2 this week.
Schaefer has never hid that he'd rather focus on church than basketball on Sundays. In October, he referred to the SEC — a conference he had worked in as a head coach and assistant for the previous two decades — as the "Heathen League" because of the number of Sunday games on the schedule.
But after UT's worst loss in Big 12 play since the 2012-13 season, Schaefer said "my consequence wouldn't allow me to give them Sunday off." Texas scheduled a practice but later had to cancel because of the road conditions on a snowy day in Central Texas.
When Texas returned to the practice court on Monday, Schaefer wanted to see a competitive spirit and toughness that was lacking in Morgantown. In his mind, those traits are established on defense.
"You start talking to a couple of our kids about not having any toughness, now they take that personally," Schaefer said. "That's what you want."
Texas trailed by 17 points at halftime in West Virginia and was then pounded to the tune of 28-9 in the third quarter. Schaefer was disappointed in that third quarter showing.
He also was not pleased with UT's 20 turnovers and the 24 fast-break points scored by West Virginia. Add those issues to the list of items that were addressed in practices this week.
"Are we fixed? I don't know," Schaefer said. "I don't think we're probably fixed. I think we're better today than we have been. Those were things that to me were glaring — competitive spirit, turnovers, transition defense."
Texas never led by more than two points, and Collier was disappointed that the team was unable to set the game's tone. For the season, Texas had outscored its opponents by 39 points in the opening quarter. The 33 points scored in the opening frame against Drake on Dec. 18 tied for the second-best quarter in school history.
Collier said the Longhorns need to "come out angry" against Kansas. The Jayhawks have been idle since late December because of injury and COVID-19 problems.
"I never like to be mad and I like to smile, but we've got to be mad," she said. "We just got whooped by like 40. That should make anybody angry. We've got to come out with a spark, we've got to come out and really just play like dogs."