Previewing No. 11 Texas vs. No. 4 Arizona: Mirror matchup means opportunities for freshmen Hunter, Lattimore

Amsal Madhani, Sports Reporter

Texas will face yet another top team in the nation in a marquee matchup against one of the few undefeated teams remaining: the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats.

Despite being one of the youngest teams in the nation, the No. 11 Longhorns, off to a strong start with a 7–1 record, has held its own against grueling nonconference competition through some gritty defense. Coincidentally, that has been Arizona’s driving force to its undefeated season as well. 

Two defensive juggernauts will face off Sunday in what could come down to which team’s offense can produce the most. 

“(Arizona) is extremely well-coached, a veteran team and kind of a mirror image,” Texas head coach Vic Schaefer said. “They play tough, physical and aggressive — especially defensively — and they have really good players.”

The Longhorns’ identity this season has been their full-court, high-pressure defense that has caused opposing teams to make many mistakes, but in this upcoming game against the Wildcats, they’ll need to focus on finding ways to get open looks for their offensive playmakers. 

It certainly helps that one of their best shooters, freshman guard Kyndall Hunter, is back in the lineup. She’ll need to have a big game to overcome Arizona’s fierce defense. 

Hunter has found most of her success through catch-and-shoot threes after coming off a screen, and she may have plenty of those opportunities Sunday afternoon mainly due to the defensive playstyle the Wildcats run. 

Arizona does whatever it can do to stop pick-and-rolls that lead to points in the paint, and that’s Texas’ go-to on offense. The Longhorns may need to adjust and kick out to the shooters, hence the importance of having Hunter back in the lineup, as the Wildcats tend to double-team coming off a down screen. 

Another name to keep an eye on against Arizona is freshman forward Latasha Lattimore. Schaefer highlighted that Lattimore will continue to get more playing time in bigger games, and this game could be one where she will be needed. 

The versatility the 6-foot-4-inch forward provides is unmatched by anyone else on Texas’ roster. She has the size to be a paint protector as well as the athleticism to keep up with smaller guards around the perimeter on defense. 

On offense, Lattimore can not only run the pick-and-roll and finish around the rim at ease, but also has a decent 3-point shot where she can make defenders pay for leaving her open.

“Latasha is going to be real good, y’all. She’s really going to be special,” Schaefer said. “If (Lattimore) can turn it loose, she might make a mistake, but she can probably cover up two or three just with her athleticism, her length or size. She can shoot it. The kid’s got a great shot, and you can’t get to her shot. So she’s just one that needs more playing time and I think she’s gonna take off.”