Texas overcomes slow shooting start to take down Jackson State, 78-64

Payne Williams, Sports Reporter

The Longhorns showed up aggressive in a Wednesday night win over Jackson State.

No. 15 Texas’ swarming style was initially a mixed bag but fell eventually in the team’s favor after the Longhorns’ 78-64 victory against the Tigers.

Texas was especially aggressive early at Frank Erwin Center, likely in response to Saturday’s sluggish start against Cal State Northridge. The Longhorns began the game flying on defense, drawing two charges and multiple turnovers in the first quarter.

The Longhorns’ offensive speed and passing ability also played favor to some open shots in the first quarter, but Texas’ shooting got off to a rough start; the team failed to capitalize on several of the open looks.

The Tigers played fast and physical and it was evident on Wednesday. After multiple Texas free throws, Jackson State flipped the court quickly making for the easy points after a lack of Texas defensive effort.

“Our inability to guard was really telling,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We couldn’t even find our player after a free throw.”

Texas was pushed hard Wednesday night on both ends of the court, and Schaefer couldn’t help but give credit to the Jackson State team.

“Tonight’s about Jackson State,” Schaefer said. “I knew what was coming, and that’s one of the reasons we scheduled them.”

While Jackson State gave Texas a handful, senior Lauren Ebo owned the first half and made it known early.

While Ebo wears No. 1, she commanded multiple double-teams Wednesday allowing her to find her open teammates for easy buckets.

The center’s shot creating ability was further on display as she drained two consecutive buckets in the first quarter, forcing Jackson State to use its first timeout. Ebo ended the first half a perfect 4-4 for eight points.

Ebo’s defensive play was nothing to scoff at either. The 6-foot-4-inch center recorded seven rebounds and five blocks to pace the Longhorns in addition to her team-high 14 points.

Schaefer highlighted Ebo’s performance, but came back to lack of conditioning and focus as a reason the Longhorns had to pull out of their typical full-court press defense.

Texas closed the first quarter strong, scoring seven points in the final three minutes. With just over a minute left, sophomore Ashley Chevalier missed her second of two free throws. Despite this, Texas put the ball back in the hands of Chevalier to finish with a layup at six seconds. 

Chevalier put her on-ball ability on full display as she crossed a Jackson State defender and dished it to DeYona Gaston who missed, but sophomore Shay Holle flew in from the top of the key to get the point in addition to the foul. Holle would drain the free throw and complete the three-point play.

Junior Aliyah Matharu, who put up a team and personal high of 27 points in the Longhorn’s loss to Tennessee, was efficient as ever. Despite only seeing 17 minutes of court time, the guard finished 5-6 from the field, including 3-4 from behind the arc.

Texas moved to 5-1 on the season and heads to College Station on Sunday to face No. 17 Texas A&M, where Schaefer will meet his former coaching partner and Aggie head coach Gary Blair.