Texas is going into its game against Kansas tonight with a record almost the exact reverse of the one it held at this point last year.
The Longhorns struggled significantly last season, holding a 7-10 record entering their matchup with Kansas, only to drop to 7-11 after being blown out by the Jayhawks (38-76). This year the team has made vast improvements and heads into the game boasting an 11-5 record.
To compare the game Texas played against Kansas last year with the one it’s about to play tonight is not a fair comparison.
When the Longhorns played Kansas last season, two of Texas’ highest scorers, senior Chassidy Fussell and junior Nneka Enemkpali, did not play after being suspended for a violation of team rules.
Without two of its top players, Texas trailed by 34 points by the end of the first half and committed 17 turnovers that were converted into 20 points for the Jayhawks.
This time around, both Enemkplai and Fussell are expected to play and are likely to be vital contributors to the scoreboard.
Although comparing games might be unfair, comparing the team as a whole to what it was last year is far more unjust.
The 2012-2013 season was head coach Karen Aston’s first year at Texas. The team had to adapt to new expectations and Aston’s coaching style, and a large number of the players were still getting used to being in college. Nearly half the team was made up of freshmen and sophomores.
Although the team is still young, Aston pointed out in a post game press conference earlier this season that at least now they have
experience — an understanding what it’s like to play under her, at a collegiate level and in the Big 12.
On paper, and based on the great successes and improvements they’ve made this year, the Longhorns should come out on top in their face-off against Kansas.
Through Jan. 12, the Longhorns rank second in the nation and first in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense (.320), 13th/2nd in scoring defense (55.4 ppg) and 7th/2nd in rebounding margin (+12.3). The Longhorns also have the extra motivation of trying to redeem themselves after a tough overtime loss against West Virginia on Sunday.
This game shouldn’t be a big game for the Longhorns, but a loss here could be a huge setback for Texas in its attempt at a high Big 12 standing.
Tonight’s game against the Jayhawks tips off at 7 p.m. in the Frank Erwin Center.