Enemkpali helps No. 3 Texas beat Kansas 60-46
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Texas does a lot of things well, but perimeter shooting usually is not among them.
The third-ranked Longhorns used their typical defense, rebounding, interior scoring and overall hustle in a 60-46 win over Kansas on Saturday night in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
The Longhorns shot just 40 percent and, after starting the day last in the Big 12 in 3-point shooting at 29 percent, were 1 for 7 from beyond the arc.
However, Texas outscored Kansas 38-18 in the paint – including 22-8 in the second half – and 15-0 on fast breaks. The Longhorns outrebounded the Jayhawks 39-31 and limited them to 37 percent shooting.
”You are gonna always have nights when the ball is not gonna go in the hole,” Texas forward Nneka Enemkpali said. ”But you get that spark defensively, you are able to find a way to be in every play, get your hand on the ball and disrupt them as much as you possibly can.”
Texas (12-0) is off to its best start since 1985-86 when it went 34-0 and became the first undefeated NCAA women’s champion.
Enemkpali had 12 points and 14 rebounds, the sixth straight double-double for the 6-foot-1 senior. Empress Davenport scored 13 points to lead Texas, and Brady Sanders had 10 points.
The Longhorns took command with a 15-2 push in the second half as Kansas (9-5) went scoreless for a span of 6:23.
”There are games in this league that you are gonna win in the 50s, not many you are gonna win in the 40s,” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. ”At some point, you gotta make a shot.”
Chelsea Gardner led Kansas with 11 points and eight rebounds. She went to the bench with two fouls at the 5:16 mark of the first half. The Jayhawks’ leading scorer had nine points at the time, and the team trailed by a point.
Texas stretched its lead to four at the half.
Kansas was able to stymie Longhorns center Kelsey Lang in the first half, holding her to two shots and no points in 12 minutes. The 6-foot-5 Lang began the night averaging 13.5 points a game, tied for the team lead. She scored six points in the second half.
Texas trailed by six as the first half approached the midway point.
Coach Karen Aston said the Longhorns had a case of the jitters at the beginning of their first conference game.
”We looked a little, I don’t want to say nervous, but tentative,” Aston said. ”Then our older players that had been there before I thought really settled us down.”
TEXAS LOSES A GUARD
Reserve Brianna Taylor fell to the court while trying to draw a charging foul less than 5 minutes into the game. She was helped off the court with an injured left knee and did not return to the game. Aston said after the game that she did not know the extent of the injury but added ”She’s OK. She’ll be fine.”
Texas: With the victory over Kansas, the Longhorns snapped a losing streak of nine straight Big 12 openers. Only two of the nine opponents that beat Texas were nationally ranked. And the Longhorns were ranked at the time of sixth of those games.
Kansas: The Jayhawks rank between the middle and the bottom of the Big 12 in most statistical categories. But they began conference competition leading the league in 3-point shooting accuracy at nearly 40 percent. Natalie Knight and Asia Boyd rank third and fourth in the league. Kansas hit just 4 of 18 against Texas.
Texas: Hosts No. 21 West Virginia on Wednesday.
Kansas: Hosts Oklahoma on Wednesday.