Texas faces off against Texas State for the first time in seven years

Rachel Wenzlaff

At Texas’ last meeting with Texas State in 2006, the Longhorns beat the Bobcats 74-55. But that was seven years ago, when Texas was ranked No. 25 in the country. 

Head coach Karen Aston knows her first year back at Texas was less than impressive, finishing second to last in the Big 12 with a 12-18 record. 

“We’re not where we need to be, and I don’t think any coach would tell you that in October at this point,” Aston said.

But the comfort level that has been established between the players and coaches is something that can give Texas fans hope for this season.

“Our staff, I can’t compliment them enough for how much time they have spent trying to get to know the current players [and] the returners to make up for the lost time in recruiting.” Aston said. “[There’s] absolutely more comfort.”

That comfort translated to the court in the Longhorns’ season opener against UTSA when Texas secured a 63-42 win. Senior guard Chassidy Fussell and sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford both had a double-digit game. Their accuracy is what really made the pair stand out, though. 

Fussell shot 41.7 percent from the field, 2-for-3 from the three-point line and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. She led the team with 18 points. McGee-Stafford posted a 75 percent field goal percentage, notching her 14th career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

“Last year, she [McGee-Stafford] was our ‘big baby,’ and you can definitely see in practice that she’s grown and matured and learned that she’s going to have to step up,” junior forward Nneka Enempkpali said.

The Longhorns lead the all-time series with the Bobcats 23-5 and have won the last 18 meetings, but as far as experience goes for the current teams, the Longhorns and Bobcats are pretty evenly matched. Both teams are still relatively young: Eight of 14 Texas players are either freshmen or sophomores, compared with eight out of 13 Texas State players.

Although this is Texas State head coach Zenarae Antoine’s third year in the position, her first season was far more successful than Aston’s. In her first year with the Bobcats, she transformed a 9-20 team into a 17-14 team, leading one of the best comebacks in Texas State history. Since coming to San Marcos, she has established an up-tempo style the Longhorns will need to keep up with tonight at 7 p.m. in the Frank Erwin Center.