Longhorns look to get back to winning ways in Lawrence

Stephen Wagner

It’s been a rough two weeks for the Longhorns.  

Texas has uncharacteristically struggled in Big 12 play, which is something Karen Aston has not been accustomed to in her seven years as the head coach at Texas. Final scores have not told the full story, as Texas has repeatedly struggled with turnovers before eventually pulling away late.

“The stakes (in nonconference play) weren’t as high as they are now,” Aston said on Jan. 21. “That hasn’t really clicked with our players yet, that when you have a lead you need to punch somebody in the mouth and stick the knife in, and we’re not doing that.”

Her statement has aged well, as Texas has lost two of its last three matchups, one to an unranked opponent at home for the first time since 2017.

It’s apparent the Longhorns’ lack of depth is hurting them. Now without forward Audrey Warren, who suffered a concussion against Texas Tech on Jan. 26, Texas will have its depth tested yet again against Kansas.  

A litany of Texas injuries has resulted in a baptism by fire for guard Joanne Allen-Taylor, who saw a season high in free throws made last week against West Virginia.

“We’re down a guard right now, with Audrey (Warren), and I think that sort of opens the door up for Jo,” Aston said after the loss. “The one thing I can say about her is that she’s always ready.”

Although Allen-Taylor saw no playing time against No. 1 Baylor on Monday, it’s not unreasonable to see her against Kansas.  

While Aston’s strategy was to combat Baylor’s strong inside presence with one of her own, Kansas’ style of play is much more guard-heavy. As a result, the Jayhawks are the second best 3-point shooting team in the Big 12.

In its last matchup in Austin, Kansas shot egregiously bad. The Jayhawks were an abysmal 4-30 from beyond the arc, although Texas couldn’t fully capitalize on Kansas’ mistakes until the game’s final quarter.

“We take every opponent that steps on the floor seriously,” point guard Sug Sutton said following the Longhorns’ 62-43 victory over Kansas. “We just weren’t competitive enough to reverse the ball or get open or just handle the ball and not have turnovers.”

Early in the season, Aston repeatedly alluded that fans would see a much improved Texas team in February during Big 12 play. Texas has yet to be the dominant team Aston has referred to, but it will have the opportunity to change that in Lawrence.

The Longhorns will travel to Lawrence, Kansas, this Saturday to face the Jayhawks for the second time this season. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.