After defeating Kansas State in “The Little Apple” Sunday afternoon, Texas will face another team from the Sunflower State — the Kansas Jayhawks.
While the Longhorns have returned to Austin for Wednesday’s Big 12 matchup, head coach Karen Aston said the sea of orange in the stands and cheering fans won’t necessarily guarantee a win.
“Honestly, if you look at the standings right now in the games that have happened since Big 12 play started, I don’t even know if home court is an advantage right now,” Aston said in a press conference on Jan. 17. “I think it’s just a matter of us approaching every game the same, regardless of the opponent.”
Since conference play began, Big 12 teams have been beating up on each other, no matter the place. Two of Texas’ three conference victories have come on the road, and a two point loss to TCU to open the new year proved the Longhorns are not immune to losing at home.
One player who hopes to protect home court is freshman guard Celeste Taylor, who has become an important piece for Texas on both sides of the ball.
Taylor, the Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Week, recorded seven steals and sank a career-high four three-pointers to help the Longhorns put the Wildcats away on Sunday. Taylor said she’s become more confident as the season has progressed, but like the rest of the players on the team, she’ll have to make another adjustment now that the spring semester classes have begun.
Over the break, Aston got the team up early for practice, took the players on community service outings and conducted workshops to keep everyone’s brains stimulated outside of basketball to help the transition back into the routine of the semester.
However, school will have to wait on Wednesday night. Aston said Kansas will pose a challenge for Texas, as the Jayhawks are more confident than they’ve been in previous years. She thinks Kansas will be a matchup issue for the Longhorns, if nothing else.
“They’re very competitive, very quick,” Aston said. “They put a lot of pressure on you defensively to stay in front of them … I think that (we’re) going to play really smart and value possessions a little more than we did against Kansas State.”
According to Aston, conference play is so heated right now because teams that missed out on the NCAA Tournament last season after years of qualifying have developed a new sense of urgency. But the number of home losses still boggles her mind.
“I can’t really explain the home losses,” Aston said. “That’s a first for me in this league to see so many teams lose at home. But that’s the parity.”
Tomorrow, Longhorns will be shooting for the program’s 1,100th win all-time, a feat only five other Division 1 programs have achieved.
“We talk a lot about being Texas in general,” Aston said. “They look at this building every day and they see the players that played in front of them. We talked a lot about legacy in a sense, especially with seniors. What are you remembered by?”