Longhorns to celebrate Erwin Center 40th anniversary against Louisiana Tech

Travis Hlavinka

The No. 2 Longhorns will host Louisiana Tech on Thursday night celebrating a special occasion — the 40th anniversary of the Frank Erwin Center.

The Erwin Center opened its door 40 years ago Wednesday. The women’s team played the first-ever sporting event in the arena, defeating Temple Junior College, 67-64, in what was a non-ticketed game.

“It’s an iconic building,” head coach Karen Aston said. “It’s one that I talk about all the time in a sense that it’s hard for me to think about it not being here one day just because it is so iconic in the state of Texas in so many ways … I have some great memories here — Big 12 championships, regional championships. It’s a great, great place, a
great venue.”

The 40th anniversary of the Erwin Center will be celebrated in style on Thursday night, featuring old-school music, dance performances, a special halftime performance and complimentary birthday cake for the spectators.

Texas will look to mark the occasion with its sixth win of the season, continuing the Longhorns’ unbeaten streak to start the year. Texas is coming off a stellar South Point Shootout in Las Vegas, where the burnt orange defeated LSU and Washington by nine and 24 points, respectively.

Louisiana Tech is not unfamiliar with the Erwin Center. Former Louisiana Tech head coach and NCAA legend Leon Barmore coached his final game in the venue during a first-round loss in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. One of Barmore’s players during that contest, Brooke Stoehr, is now Louisiana Tech’s head coach.

Thursday’s game will also have extra meaning for the two programs as Louisiana Tech and Texas are near each other on the all-time wins list. The Longhorns are No. 5 all time while Louisiana Tech is No. 2, trailing only Tennessee.

Texas hopes to put an exclamation mark on Thursday night with a victory over the Lady Techsters. The Longhorns are led by junior forward Jatarie White, who averaged 19 points per game during the tournament in Las Vegas. She was joined on the all-tournament team by senior guard Brooke McCarty.

And don’t sleep on the Longhorns’ leader, senior guard Ariel Atkins. She currently ranks second in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 73 percent.

“I think Ariel’s just playing at a very high level, in general,” Aston said. “I made a comment in the film room yesterday that she played very well and made some good shots against LSU.”

Texas’ offense is cooking right now, leading the nation in points per game. If the Longhorns’ offense can keep up the hot play on Thursday night, a sixth straight win and celebration at the Erwin Center will be in order. Tipoff against Louisiana Tech is at 7 p.m.