The NCAA’s reveal of the top 16 seeds is always one of the most anticipated events of February. With three-fourths of the season nearly completed and the postseason picture shaping up, the eyes of Top 25 teams and coaching staffs all turn to the polls.
But Texas, despite being ranked No. 15 in both the coaches and AP polls, could not find its name anywhere among the top 16 seeds. Instead, No. 20 Miami and No. 18 Iowa State jumped Texas and Syracuse to fill out the bottom two spots of the top 16.
For the Longhorns, Tuesday night’s road matchup against Oklahoma State was just another reason to play with a chip on their shoulder.
“We’re at the point now where a win is a premium (in the Big 12),” Texas head coach Karen Aston said.
Earning her sixth consecutive 20-win season at Texas, Aston has learned to win games in a variety of ways. This season has been no exception, as Aston has referenced the season as a “rollercoaster” multiple times.
In Tuesday night’s 61-55 win in Stillwater, it was more of the same.
“It was one of those grind-it-out kind of games,” Aston said. “They were really physical with us … but we were patient. But their physicality bothered us tonight.”
The tale of the first half was defense, on both sides. After a battle of first quarter scoring, the offenses finally got on track in the second.
Texas rebounded from an eye-shutting 28 percent first quarter shooting exhibit by shooting an even 50 percent in the second. With a modest score of 25-23 in favor of Texas at the half, both teams shot under 40 percent from the floor, and Texas turned the ball over 11 times.
“It’s been our pattern sometimes. We tend to get kind of discombobulated in the first half, can’t quite figure out how someone is attacking us,” Aston said. “We have turnovers, we go to halftime, we adjust, and then we don’t turn it over as much (in the second half). But the first half turnovers are getting us right now.”
Texas finished the game with 17 turnovers.
Point guard Sug Sutton, who has been the status quo this season, led Texas at the halftime break with eight points and four rebounds.
“I love games like this,” Sutton said. “I like digging deep, fighting for games. Everybody’s competitive in (the Big 12), so every game is going to be like this, and I love them.”
After a back-and-forth third quarter which saw the Cowgirls briefly take the lead, the fourth quarter was a signature final period for Texas: nail-biting frustration.
Unable to ever lead by more than eight in the game, Texas couldn’t pull away in the fourth.
Between a handful of untimely missed shots and a won’t-quit drive, Oklahoma State managed to cut the lead down to one possession with 36 seconds remaining. But free throws from Sutton and guard Joyner Holmes would ultimately seal the victory for Texas.
The Longhorns return to Austin on Sunday, where they will look to avenge their only conference road loss to Kansas State.