Texas looks for answers in road battle with Kansas

Justin Martinez

Things get weird for the Longhorns when they leave Austin.

Texas has been a nightmare for opponents when playing at the Frank Erwin Center this season, boasting a 10–1 record at home with an average point differential of 26.9 points.

But that level of play plummets on the road. Texas is just 4–3 when playing in enemy territory this season, including an 81-56 blowout loss to No. 3 Baylor on Jan. 25.

Now the Longhorns must head to Lawrence, Kansas, on Wednesday night for a matchup against a Jayhawks squad that’s desperate to snap their seven-game losing streak.

“I think we’ve experienced already that it’s not quite as easy as it is in the friendly confines of the Frank Erwin Center,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “We need to really lace our shoes up and make sure that we’re as competitive as we are at home.”

For Texas, that burden falls on the shoulders of senior guard Brooke McCarty. The League City native has struggled to find the bottom of the net over the past two games, getting outscored by her counterpart, 47-22. 

McCarty’s mid-range jumper, which has been a staple of her game for the past three seasons, hasn’t fallen lately. She’s on track to record her lowest point total since her freshman year.

Even though McCarty has shot a woeful 6-for-25 in her last two outings, Aston’s confidence in her 5-foot-4-inch floor general hasn’t wavered.

“She’s gotten to the point where she’s smart enough and unselfish enough of a player,” Aston said. “But as we move forward, I definitely know that there’s going to be times where we need her to shoot the ball (well), and I have no doubt in my mind that that’ll happen.”

The Longhorns hope to find some extra help for their starters off the bench come Wednesday night, although the team has struggled to find a consistent source of production from its backups all season long.

Texas’ lack of depth has proven fatal in its four losses this season, as the Longhorns mustered an average of just 9.5 bench points in those games.

Rotational players will have to make their presence known moving forward as the Longhorns also prepare for a much-anticipated rematch against TCU on Saturday in Austin. The Horned Frogs shocked Texas on Jan. 10 in Fort Worth, handing the Longhorns their first Big 12 conference loss, 79-77.

“I’m hoping that a few more people will join the party and be able to give us really quality minutes,” Aston said. “They have to be productive in the sense of defending, rebounding, paying attention to detail and (being able to) get us a few extra buckets. I’m still trying to find that.”

Wednesday’s showdown against a vulnerable Kansas team presents the perfect opportunity for just that. The Longhorns take on the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.