Texas was skating on thin ice prior to Saturday’s 76-67 win.
The Longhorns went into Norman following a disappointing 64-58 loss to West Virginia at home. Their second loss in conference play left a bad taste in their mouth going into a Red River rivalry game that never fails to bring intensity.
Forwards Joyner Holmes and Jatarie White emerged as the stars of the game. White led the team in scoring while Holmes had another double-double. Serving as twin towers for Texas, their size is able to give them an advantage over a majority of the conference.
“I thought (Holmes and White) had a presence tonight,” head coach Karen Aston said. “(They) were the difference in the game.”
Their presence was certainly felt down low in the paint, where they scored 40 of their 76 points. Half of those came from White and Holmes. Along with it, Texas was able to come running out of the gate — an area of struggle for the Longhorns in previous games.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” White said. “We were hyping each other up and it transferred to the first quarter.”
Just as White felt the energy, it didn’t go unrecognized by Aston.
“The thing I was most pleased about was the way we started the game,” Aston said. “We’ve had some slow starts lately. We had the right energy and mentality.”
Danni Williams had a good game as well, shooting 50 percent from downtown. With Williams being one of the Longhorns’ only threats from outside the arc, her consistent contribution is needed in order for this team to go where they want to.
Even though a win was added to the record, one of the biggest issues for Texas has been its turnovers, and it showed against Oklahoma. Including Saturday, the Longhorns have committed 14 or more turnovers in four of the last five games. It’s this lackadaisical tendency that has prevented the offense from getting into a consistent rhythm.
Also, a sign for concern came up near the end of the game. Texas was leading by 16 early in the fourth quarter, but the lead was eventually cut down to eight. While teams will make runs and continue to fight, the fact that Texas let yet another lead dwindle down near the closing stages of a game can be a cause to pause.
“We had some lapses throughout the game,” White said. “(It) allowed them to come back from the (16) point deficit. We have to keep working to tighten up on defense.”
A rivalry game win is always good. It’s especially good considering the fact that the No. 1 team in the nation will be trotting into the Frank Erwin Center Monday night fresh off a 96-37 thrashing of Texas Tech.
Saturday’s win meant more than just bragging rights against Oklahoma. Since Texas lost to West Virginia, giving them a second conference loss, a perfect conference record is needed from here on out in order to capture the Big 12 title—a trophy that has alluded Aston since she’s been the head coach. The Longhorns’ result against the Sooners keeps them on the right track towards it.
Texas will face off against top-ranked Baylor on Monday at 6 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.