Texas forces 30 turnovers in 63-42 win over Oklahoma State
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas has been struggling to score and win, so the Longhorns turned to their defense to snap a two-game skid in the Big 12.
Tiffany Jackson scored 20 points and No. 12 Texas forced Oklahoma State into 30 turnovers Saturday for a 63-42 victory.
"We needed that for our psyche. We haven't been feeling very good about ourselves," said Texas coach Jody Conradt, whose two-time defending conference champs came in with their first Big 12 losing streak since the 2000-2001 season.
Texas lost to Texas Tech 79-62 on Wednesday and then-No. 3 Baylor 63-60 on Jan. 8.
The Cowgirls knew they might run into desperate team, but couldn't muster a challenge to Texas' defensive pressure. The Longhorns (9-5, 2-2) smothered Oklahoma State with full-court and half-court pressure the entire game.
"I knew coach Conradt would have this team ready to play with their mad on and ready to take it out on us," said Oklahoma State coach Julie Goodenough.
"They're fast enough to cover baseline to baseline. They're a scary defensive team when they do that," she said.
Texas' pressure limited Cowgirls' leading scorer Nina Stone to four points on 2-of-7 shooting and forced her into committing five turnovers.
Christian Hood led Oklahoma State (5-9, 0-4) with eight points, but fouled out with more than 7 minutes left.
Oklahoma State outrebounded Texas 33-26, but couldn't overcome mistakes with the ball.
Jackson had four steals in the first half and scored eight of Texas' final 14 points of the period to break open a close game.
"I think my steals were the result of great ball pressure," Jackson said. "When the guards are putting pressure on the ball, that forces the other team to lob passes."
Jackson converted a steal and layup into a 3-point play before Jamie Carey hit the Longhorns' only 3-pointer of the game. A steal by Kala Bowers led to a fast break layup by Jackson with 9 seconds left and a 34-18 Texas advantage at the break.
"You can go through shooting slumps but you should be able to play defense every game," Carey said. "It created a lot of energy and got us rolling."
Oklahoma State simply didn't have the depth to keep up in the second. Eliz Gomes, Destanie Sykes and Hood, three players counted on to matchup with Jackson inside, each picked up three fouls in the first half.
It was a badly needed win for the Longhorns, who are struggling through a rugged schedule and some disappointing results. Loaded with senior talent, Texas began the season ranked No. 2 but has already matched last season's loss total.
And the schedule quickly ramps back up. The Longhorns play Monday at No. 16 Connecticut before hosting No. 2 Baylor next weekend.
"When you win, that's the bottom line," Conradt said. "We've had some crummy days over the last week or so. Right now there's nothing but optimism."
COACH AND PLAYER POSTGAME QUOTES
We've got to work a lot harder at making play after play. We did pick up the tempo with the press. Our team has a hard stretch of games here -and I'm not surprised we sputtered a bit. Offensively, we would do a good thing, but then get the ball tipped or we wouldn't move like we needed to. We needed better ball reversal. We are working on that daily. But, I am glad to get a win and glad to get playing time for lots of our players."
The play of Tiffany Jackson (game-high 20 points, game-high six steals)...
On getting the win to break the two-game losing streak...
We would like to be in a transition game all the time. We need to work on our consistency on the offensive end. With the press today, it was about changing tempo and creating offensive opportunities; it's about forcing the action."
On playing 12 Longhorn players today...
On Texas' next game - at No. 16 Connecticut, playing in the Hartford Civic Center, on ESPN2 on Monday (Jan. 17)...
Scheduling is an interesting thing. We scheduled our non-conference games early last year - the UConn game, the Georgia, UCLA games. Then in the fall, you get your conference schedule sent to you. This year, the league schedule obviously did not work to our favor. And now, after a tough beginning in the Big 12, we go up to New England to play Connecticut!
But, it's all about exposure. Our team went into the season with high expectations and we should be a team to showcase our sport. When you have an opportunity to be on national TV against an opponent like Connecticut, you take those opportunities.
I welcome that Texas is part of ESPN's MLK Day basketball game. It has become a tradition. This game has always involved Connecticut and usually Tennessee. It is a marquee game in women's basketball. This is an opportunity to play in a hostile environment. I think this game will be competitive. I don't think many would envision that Texas and UConn right now would be trying to find the right combinations and be struggling a bit. However, Connecticut played pretty well the other night against a very good Notre Dame team. We had better be ready."
A win over UConn would be one more win for us against a very worthy opponent. You want to move forward and when it comes to championship and tournament time and be in the mix. This game will show us where we are. Even though we lost two conference games so far, does anyone remember what they were? They were at Baylor and at (Texas) Tech last year on the road. Right now, we have two losses in the league - at Baylor and at Tech. So, if you look at what we did last year, that hope (to win the championship) is still out there. We need to play a lot better and pick it up to do so. We are not out of it. We need to keep thinking about moving forward. And those teams have to come here, eventually. But, before we get back to Big 12 play, we've got a chance to prove more to ourselves Monday against Connecticut."
Texas Senior G Jamie Carey
On playing Connecticut for the second time - after losing by two (71-69) to the Huskies in the 2003 Final Four semifinals...