The message was clear after Sunday’s 67-49 loss to No. 6 Mississippi State.
“Work,” head coach Karen Aston said. “Go to work.”
Aston was concise with her words following the blowout loss with the intention of trying to move forward to Sunday’s matchup against No. 9 Tennessee.
While the two opponents are different in various aspects, Texas finds itself in a familiar situation, playing an unbeaten, SEC powerhouse on an early Sunday tip-off in hopes of making waves on a national stage despite losing much of its depth to injury already.
One of the reasons for the blowout loss to Mississippi State and a key to the matchup against Tennessee is the effort given by Texas, according to Aston.
“I know we struggle offensively,” Aston said. “I’ve never had a team that’s struggled to play hard.”
Aston continued, “Right now, I don’t think we practice at a high level. That’s where you learn your habits.”
Guard Sug Sutton was on the podium with Aston when she challenged the team, and the junior gladly accepted the task.
“Right now, we’re not giving enough effort,” Sutton said. “In two months, I hope we’re playing as a team, give effort every possession and take every possession seriously.”
If the Longhorns want to right their ship, another one of the points of emphasis has to be on the amount of turnovers. Against Mississippi State, every Longhorn player who touched the court had a turnover, adding up to a whopping 22 turnovers for the game.
Turnovers on the offensive side of the ball can be overcome, but only if the defense on the opposite end is able to force them. That has not been a strong suit for the Longhorns this year.
Texas averages 15 turnovers per game and only forces 15.3, a nearly nonexistent differential of 0.3. Granted, Sutton has had the ball in her hands even more following the season-ending injury of guard Lashann Higgs, but the turnovers have to be at a minimum for Texas’ floor general to stay in the game.
A win Sunday would be huge for the Longhorns. It would serve as their first win against a ranked opponent this season and would most likely get them back into the top 10 in the country.
Tennessee comes into the game following a 20-point comeback win against Stetson. With the Volunteers not wanting to put themselves in another deep hole and Texas trying to get back on track, Sunday’s matchup will be an intriguing and important one.
Texas tips off against Tennessee at 12 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.