Texas hosts Kansas State in last game before Baylor

Dalton Phillips

The No. 12 Longhorns seek to build momentum before Monday’s division-defining showcase against No. 2 Baylor.

Texas hosts Kansas State on Saturday in the teams’ first matchup of the season. The Wildcats are the Longhorns’ first opponent with a winning conference record since their Jan. 17 contest against Oklahoma.

Barring a huge upset from TCU over Baylor, a Texas win on Saturday means that Monday’s game against the Bears would decide the sole ownership of the No. 1 seed in the Big 12, which in turn could affect seeding for the approaching Big 12 tournament.

Given what’s at stake, head coach Karen Aston isn’t taking any chances by looking too far ahead.

“We’ve taken one day at a time, and it wouldn’t matter who we were playing Saturday, Monday, Tuesday — it doesn’t matter what we’re doing,” Aston said. “I’m not the type of coach anyway that would look ahead.”

The Wildcats enter Saturday’s game riding a two-game winning streak and sit comfortably at fourth place in the Big 12, just ahead of No. 22 West Virginia.

Texas, meanwhile, has yet to drop a game in 2017. The Longhorns boast a flawless 11–0 conference record — part of a 15-game winning streak that ties the 12th longest in program history.

Texas is coming off a 85-71 road win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday evening. Junior guard Ariel Atkins carried much of the offensive load against the Cowgirls, pouring in a career-high 26 points on 11-13 shooting in just 23 minutes of action.

Senior center Kelsey Lang collected her ninth career double-double against the Cowgirls, adding 21 points and 12 rebounds to go along with two blocks in 34 minutes.

Four of Texas’ five starters contributed double-digit scoring numbers, marking the 17th time this season that three or more players have posted 10 or more points in a game.  

Lang will likely have her hands full with center Breanna Lewis, Kansas State’s leading scorer and rebounder. The senior is averaging 14.4 points and 8.9 rebounds through 23 games and is one of only 24 Wildcats to notch at least 1,000 career points and 500 boards.

Despite having a young squad, Aston is confident her players can stay focused.

“We come in here Saturday with, again, another team that’s fighting for a bid,” Aston said. “I don’t think we’ll get into that. I don’t think we’ll have a problem with that.”

Texas and Kansas State hit the hardwood Saturday at 5 p.m. in the Frank Erwin Center.