No. 5 Texas puts undefeated mark on the line in first true road game vs. Arizona

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The No. 5 Texas Longhorns play their first true road game of the season on Wednesday when they take on the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, and head coach Vic Schaefer is excited to see how the team reacts to a less-than-hospitable crowd.

“I’m excited to take our team on the road, and we’ll go into a place with a lot of people and be challenging for us,” he said. “This will be good for us. You always find out about your team when you play good teams on the road.”

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Arizona is 7-2 with losses to current No. 23 UNLV and Ole Miss, ranked No. 23 at the time the teams played. The Wildcats clobbered UC-San Diego 81-38 on Dec. 7 with five players scoring in double figures.

Longhorns guard Shaylee Gonzales is from Gilbert, Arizona, a southeast suburb of Phoenix about a 2-hour drive to the McKale Center, and Schaefer said it’ll be nice for her to play in front of friends and family.

Texas (10-0) has lit up scoreboards this season, averaging 92 points per game (No. 6 in Division I) and holding teams to 52.9 per game. They’re shooting almost 35% from 3-point range and average 20.1 assists per game, good for No. 12 in the country. Perhaps most importantly, the Longhorns lead the country in turnover margin at 12.5, forcing 25.1 turnovers per game while committing 12.6 per game.

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Texas has also built the No. 4 rebounding margin in the country at 17.4, and they’ve been able to do it for the most part without DeYona Gaston and Aaliyah Moore playing significant minutes. Both are coming off injuries, Gaston with an ankle injury she suffered in the preseason scrimmage, and Moore tore her left ACL a year ago to the day of this writing. Gaston played 14 minutes against Long Beach State in her first action of the season and Moore has appeared in five games, so once those low-block players are 100%, Schaefer’s squad will be even more formidable in the paint.

“You just have to continue to support them and we’ve got to help them build confidence as they come back,” he said. “The more you put them in a reactionary situation and they get through it, I think the more comfortable they become.”

Junior point guard Rori Harmon leads the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, dishing out 74 assists while committing just 10 turnovers for a 7.4 ratio. She’s also shooting 51.4% from the field and second on the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game. Senior forward Taylor Jones leads the teams in scoring with 16.2 points per game, shooting 71.6% for No. 3 in the country.

The Longhorns have three games left on the nonconference schedule before Big 12 play begins, and Schaefer knows things are going to get tougher from here.

“We’re going to get a challenge Wednesday night, and we’ve played well in a lot of our games, so I can’t be disappointed in that,” Schaefer said, “but the schedule is fixin’ to change obviously and we’re going to have to be able to function against better teams in the next two months.”

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