Kansas was the better team in the first half of its game against Texas on Jan. 13.
Shots were falling with ease for the Jayhawks as they shocked the then-No. 7 Longhorns by going into halftime with a 31-29 lead. Texas ultimately responded in the second half as the Longhorns rallied for a 79-62 victory. But the Jayhawks had inflicted their damage, exposing a hole in Texas’ armor. Those holes got bigger on Wednesday night.
Texas got pushed to its limits for a second time against Kansas this season, this time escaping Allen Fieldhouse with a 55-41 win on Wednesday night. The Longhorns seemed to have found the answer to the Kansas attack in the first quarter, starting the game with a full-court press that forced three turnovers in the first three minutes.
Texas played like the team with more to prove as the senior backcourt duo of Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty torched Kansas for 10 early points en route to an imposing 22-10 lead at the break.
But the Jayhawks clawed their way back into the game in the second quarter behind a 10-point explosion by Kansas junior guard Christalah Lyons. Texas had no answer for her as the Longhorns entered halftime with an uneasy 30-25 lead.
“I thought we started pretty good,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “I thought we had a lot of attention to detail, but we lost that pretty quick. I thought we got out of sorts a lot (in the second quarter).”
Tensions grew in the third quarter as the Jayhawks upped the intensity, fearlessly exchanging jabs with the Longhorns. Kansas rose to the challenge on defense, forcing four Texas turnovers.
“(The Jayhawks) were just playing really hard,” McCarty said. “We have to credit their defense. We were rushing our shots, and we didn’t have a flow.”
With Atkins held scoreless in the third quarter, McCarty took matters into her own hands. The League City native had struggled to find the bottom of the net in the past few outings, but McCarty lit up the Jayhawks for eight of Texas’ 11 points. McCarty’s spark of offense kept the Longhorns kicking as Texas entered the fourth quarter with a 41-36 lead.
With the game up for grabs, Texas finally created some breathing room. Atkins led the charge on both ends, scoring 10 points and holding Lyons scoreless in the quarter. A late rally never came for Kansas as the Longhorns slowed the pace and secured victory.
“We just had to dig deep and work together,” McCarty said. “Later in the fourth quarter some things opened up, and we took advantage.”
Atkins finished the night with a team-high 16 points to go along with three assists. McCarty kept pace, totaling 13 points and four assists.
The win isn’t as convincing as the Longhorns had hoped. Texas’ 55 points marked its lowest total of the season. But with the Longhorns (17–4, 8–2 Big 12) still two games behind Baylor for the Big 12 regular-season title, every conference victory is crucial. Texas now shifts its focus to a revenge game against TCU on Saturday in Austin. The Horned Frogs bested the Longhorns in their first matchup on Jan. 10, 79-77. Tipoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.