Texas takes down Arkansas in Big 12/SEC Challenge

Jasmine C. Johnson

No. 5 Texas’ 61-50 victory over Arkansas (3-8) in the Big 12/SEC Challenge was a game of runs.

Just over two minutes into the game, junior guard Brianna Taylor stole the ball that resulted in a layup from sophomore guard Brooke McCarty and a 5-2 lead. Texas proceeded to go on a 15-1 run before ending the first quarter up, 20-3.

But the quick start dried up as soon as the next period started. Texas opened the second quarter 0-for-5 before sophomore guard Ariel Atkins hit a three at the 3:50 mark. Head coach Karen Aston said the drought was caused by being lackadaisical.

“I thought we got out the gates really, really good, and then we just sort of went to sleep and lost our discipline,” Aston said. “It looked like we were playing pickup for a little bit.”

The Longhorns only scored two more points in the quarter and went into halftime with a 25-19 lead. Despite matching Arkansas’ 26 rebounds at the half, Aston said rebounding was key in winning the game.

“I told them at one point in a timeout we need some rebounds,” Aston said. “We just need somebody to pick up some trash, and [Taylor] listened.”

Taylor finished with nine rebounds, including four in the fourth quarter. Perhaps her biggest rebound of the game came with 50.4 seconds left. Up 53-50, Taylor followed a missed jumper from McCarty with a putback layup.

With senior center Imani Boyette battling with foul trouble most of the game, Aston said Taylor gave them an inside presence.

In addition to rebounding, Taylor scored a team-high 15 points and had three steals. McCarty and senior guard Celina Rodrigo chipped in nine points each, while freshman guard Lashann Higgs added eight points.

Aston said Taylor was the highlight of what was otherwise an ugly game. The Longhorns had 21 turnovers and shot just 4-of-19 from beyond the arc.  Despite the sloppiness, Aston said they had to fight their way through it.

“It was really ugly, and we were going to figure out how to win it ugly,” Aston said.

The Longhorns (10-0) return to action Dec. 27 against Sam Houston State at 2 p.m. Even if Sunday wasn’t a pretty win, Aston said it’s hard to complain about a team that’s undefeated.

“I’m pleased with our team; I can’t complain about our team right now,” Aston said. They’re playing hard, but they just didn’t play real smart today.”