Longhorns gift fans with win over UT-RGV before Christmas break

Donnavan Smoot

With finals season coming to an end for most students, the Longhorns had one more test to take before they could relax for the Christmas break — they passed with flying colors. Texas went on the road to beat UT-Rio Grande Valley, 81-66, improving its record to 9–2 on the season.

Although the winning margin was double digits, some of the same issues that have plagued the Longhorns in previous games were present again Thursday. Texas was yet again torched by a potent opposing backcourt. Two weeks ago, it was Jazzmun Holmes, followed by Meme Jackson. Against the Vaqueros, the trouble was courtesy of Quynne Huggins, who had a career-high 25 points, doing nearly all of her damage from deep by knocking down a career-high seven threes.

“Rio Grande played like it meant something to them,” head coach Karen Aston said. “They didn’t have to play any harder than they normally have to play. They did shoot the ball better today than what I had anticipated, but that comes from excitement.”

UT-RGV made nine more threes than the Longhorns, an area they have struggled to stay competitive in throughout the season. Despite the final score making the game seem like a blowout, Aston wasn’t overly celebratory about the showing from her players.

“They did what they had to to win the game,” Aston said.

Center Jatarie White continued her early season display with another strong outing against the Vaqueros. White posted a double-double, scoring 20 points and gathering 12 rebounds. Her contribution was the primary focus that helped the Longhorns create separation in the second half. Up until that point, Texas’ largest lead was eight points. The Vaqueros were only down by seven at halftime, despite only shooting 39 percent in the first half.

The second half wasn’t immensely different from the first. It was a steady diet of unselfish basketball and good defense that eventually put the game out of reach for the Vaqueros.

“We (got) the ball inside and (made) the extra pass,” White said. “That’s what we adjusted to in the second half.”

For Texas, the game was more than just a tuneup before conference play kicks off in 2019. It was a moment for UT-RGV to play host to one of the top programs in the nation in front of a crowd that doesn’t normally experience large atmospheres.

“A majority of the crowd were high school players,” Aston said. “That’s why we did this, to try to grow the game. The whole community needs to come out and watch that team play all the time.”

Texas has one more game, at home against Northwestern State, before Big 12 play begins Jan. 2 against Oklahoma State.