Texas prepares for showdown with Texas Tech

Jasmine C. Johnson

No. 5 Texas is 12-0, one of just six undefeated teams in the nation and seven wins away from being the fifth program to reach 1,000 all-time wins.

But even in the midst of such a great start, the Longhorns are wary of looking too far ahead.

Last season, Texas started off 13-0 before finishing conference play 9-9. Senior guard Celina Rodrigo said that last year they got too invested, but now they take games one at a time.

“We know what not to do this season,” Rodrigo said. “We had a lot of emotions last year. This year, we’re more used to it, and we’re more relaxed and focused on the next game.”

Head coach Karen Aston said she cautions her team to stay in the moment.

“I think the really, really critical thing is that we take one day at a time and don’t get ahead of ourselves,” Aston said. “We have work to do.”

Even though Aston doesn’t like to look too far ahead, she said reaching 1,000 all-time wins would be a huge deal and is something to strive for.

“Every time we play a game, I write on the board what our intention is for our record to be after the game is over, and then, underneath that, I’ve been counting down,” Aston said. “As it gets a little bit closer, I hope everybody gets excited about it.”

In the meantime, Aston is excited about the potential of her team. She said she doesn’t think her players have reached their peak.

“I still think we’re a work in progress, just the fact that Ariel [Atkins] has just now come back, and Brady [Sanders] is not herself just yet and she is working towards getting there also,” Aston said.

Sophomore guard Ariel Atkins had a game-high 18 points against WVU, just her third game back from an offseason ankle surgery. Despite having the hot hand, the Duncanville native said anybody could be the high scorer in Saturday’s game against Texas Tech (9-3).

“With our team, it’s anybody on any given night,” Atkins said. “Tomorrow night, it could be anybody.”

Through 12 games, Texas has had six different players lead the team in scoring and has three players averaging double digits in scoring.

Rodrigo said she hopes the same success carries over to the new year.

“I think we played well against West Virginia, and we’re just learning things we can improve upon,” Rodrigo said. “Right now, we have to focus on Texas Tech.”

Texas looks to inch one game closer to 1,000 wins Saturday at 7 p.m. against Texas Tech at the Frank Erwin Center.