With a slew of absences on the court, head coach Karen Aston has been forced to switch things up.
Freshman guards Brooke McCarty and Ariel Atkins have been thrust into starting roles. Even freshman forward Diani Akigbogun, who hadn’t seen the court since last semester, played in the latest game.
Despite the pressure put on the two freshman guards to be major contributors, they give the Longhorns a big boost.
Atkins is averaging 11.4 points per game over the last five, while playing more than 30 minutes a game. McCarty was just named Big 12 Freshman of the Week after averaging 13.5 points and 3.5 assists during the past week.
“You could tell [McCarty] was really in control of the she moved her body,” Aston said.
Atkins and McCarty have started the past seven games and hope to build on their first conference road win where the Longhorns went up to Kansas to get. While in Lawrence, Kansas, the Longhorns also scored their most points since Jan. 19.
“[McCarty] played an energetic game and we need more of that,” Aston said after the last game. “She wasn’t afraid to take the shots.”
Falling in their first six road conference games, the Longhorns (16–8, 5–8 Big 12) finally broke through at Kansas with a 74–63 victory to end the road skid as well as a four-game losing streak. Four players scored in the double digits, including McCarty and Atkins.
“I thought we had so many players step up,” Aston said after the win Saturday night against the Jayhawks.
The Longhorns look to carry that momentum and start a winning streak of their own when they host Kansas State at the Frank Erwin Center at 7 p.m.
Kansas State (15–9, 5–8 Big 12) has other ideas, though, as it is searching for its first season sweep against Texas since 2012. In the first matchup between the two, Kansas State rallied from a halftime deficit to win by 9 points. During the game, sophomore forward Nekia Jones went down with a left knee injury that has her out indefinitely.
However, this time around, Kansas State will be on Texas’ court, giving the Longhorns a distinct advantage. In the Frank Erwin Center, dating back to last year, Texas is 26–4 and holds a +18.4 scoring margin.
Trying to take advantage of Texas’ young backcourt, Kansas State will pressure the Texas guards and try to force them into mistakes. Kansas State currently has a Big 12-leading 275 steals this season. Turnovers haven’t been Texas’ problem this season, though, as it is averaging its lowest amount of turnovers per game (16.2) in the last five seasons.
The Wildcats head into Austin fresh off an overtime loss to Texas Tech on Sunday.
The game will be aired on the Longhorn Network.