In No. 6 Texas’ 64-53 win over No. 4 Tennessee, senior guard Celina Rodrigo hit a deep three-pointer midway through the third quarter to extend Texas’ lead to eight. When Tennessee trimmed it to five again, Rodrigo found freshman guard Lashann Higgs for her third three of the game.
These plays seem to be the norm for Rodrigo, a Georgia native, this season. But she said developing these skills has been a process.
“I think [head coach Karen Aston] has definitely helped me out and given us the free reign to be more aggressive,” Rodrigo said. “I think it’s really been working out this year so far.”
Among Texas’ guard-stacked roster, Rodrigo still draws Aston’s attention. Aston said she likes that she’s a four-year starter.
“Celina has been through the really rough times here — the times where, realistically, we just threw her to the wolves,” Aston said. “She also has a great deal of experience down the stretch through all those years. So she is a confident player, and I’m very confident in her.”
Despite only scoring six points in the upset, Rodrigo posted seven assists. She also has increased her points and assists while cutting down on turnovers. Last season, Rodrigo averaged 2.2 points, 2.3 assists and 1.4 turnovers a game. This season she averages 8.4 points, four assists and one turnover a game.
Rodrigo is careful not to be content with the road victory. She wants to carry the momentum into a matchup with No. 9 Mississippi State at home Wednesday.
“One of our goals for last year was not getting too high and not getting too low with wins and losses,” Rodrigo said. “We understand it was a good win, but we can’t dwell on that.”
What Rodrigo does dwell on, however, is the team’s turnovers. After averaging 10 turnovers through the first two games, the Longhorns averaged just under 17 turnovers the last three games — including 15 against Tennessee. As the point guard, Rodrigo said she has the ball in her hand most of the time and sees containing turnovers as her main responsibility.
“Controlling our turnovers just comes with being patient on offense and not forcing things and letting the game come to us,“ Rodrigo said.
Aston said despite the high turnover rate, she liked her team’s focus in Knoxville and hopes it carries forward.
“We just have to learn how to show up every day,” Aston said.
The Longhorns host Mississippi State at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Frank Erwin Center.