After their dominating win against Texas State on Wednesday, the Longhorns now head to “The Pit” to face off against their toughest opponent so far of this young season — New Mexico.
The last time Texas met with the Lobos was in 2006, when both teams were ranked nationally in the top 25 — Texas at No. 25 and New Mexico at No. 23. The ranked match-up drew a crowd of more than 10,000 people to The Pit, all of whom watched Texas suffer a close 63-60 loss.
But the game in 2006 was a very different situation for the Longhorns. In that game, former head coach Jody Conradt coached her 1,000th game from the Texas bench while Tuesday’s game will only be head coach Karen Aston’s second season and 33rd game with the Longhorns.
One factor has remained constant both years: Texas has had a perfect record going into this game. In 2006 the Longhorns faced New Mexico with a 5-0 record, while this time around they’re going in with a 2-0 record.
Texas’ second win this season was tacked onto the Longhorns’ record after a 96-42 win over Texas State on Wednesday. Not only did the win build momentum and boost Texas’ confidence, the 54-point victory was also the largest win for the Longhorns since 2010.
With the memory of the blowout still fresh in their minds, the Longhorns are hoping to shut down a New Mexico team that is out for redemption after falling to Texas Tech 64-56 on Wednesday.
“It’s really a disappointing loss because we should beat that team and we had every opportunity to do it,” Lobos head coach Yvonne Sanchez said.
The Lobos started slow in their game with the Red Raiders, getting put into an 11-point deficit going into half time. If New Mexico comes out slow again, Texas will take that time to capitalize on the scoreboard to put the Lobos in a hole they can’t get out of.
Texas proved it could control the interior early and often in its game against Texas State, and had four different Longhorns — Enemkpali with 22 points, McGee-Stafford with 15 points, Rodrigo with 15 points and Fussell with 14 points — score at least 14 points. But what really made Texas excel was its rebounding.
“Rebounding was the difference, that’s what it came down to,” Texas State head coach Zenarae Antoine said.
But New Mexico has shown that it is far more competitive in the rebound department than Texas State. The Lobos had 48 rebounds in their last game compared with the Bobcats’ 27.
Aston knows the Longhorns still have a lot of experience to gain before they are ready for the rest of their season, and is hoping tonight’s contest not only adds another win to their record, but also fosters growth in her players.