Here is everything you need to know about the Texas Longhorns and the Kansas State Wildcats in our Texas vs. Kansas State Big 12 Tournament women’s basketball preview.
Game 6: No. 3 Texas (23-6, 13-5) vs. No. 6 Kansas State (19-11, 9-9), 7:30 p.m. CT, Friday (time is dependent on completion of Game 5)
Season series (Texas 2-0): Texas def. Kansas State, 66-48, in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 26; Texas def. Kansas State, 62-51, in Manhattan, Kansas, on Feb. 23.
Winner gets: a semifinal game against the Game 5 winner at noon on Saturday.
Projected starting lineups
Texas: G Rori Harmon, G Shay Holle, G Joanne Allen-Taylor, F DeYona Gaston, F Lauren Ebo.
Kansas State: C Ayoka Lee, G Serena Sundell, G Brylee Glenn, G Jaelyn Glenn, G Emilee Ebert.
Player to watch
Texas G Rori Harmon: The freshman guard was selected to the Heartland College Sports All-Big 12 Second Team, but with the coaches’ team she cleaned up. They selected her Big 12 Freshman of the Year, All-Big 12 Second Team, All-Defensive Team and All-Freshman team. And she deserved every single award. Head coach Vic Schaefer loves her game, and it’s easy to see why. Harmon averaged 10.4 points per game. She ranked No.4 in the Big 12 and No. 5 among Division I freshman with 4.8 assists per game, and her 77 steals led the Big 12. Three more years of this? The rest of the Big 12 can’t wait, right?
Kansas State F Ayoka Lee: You may have heard of Lee. She’s the one that dropped 61 points on Oklahoma in January, setting a new Division I record for most points in a single game. She’s been her most dominant this season, as her 679 points and 279 made field goals are new career single-season highs. She is the first player in program history with 675 or more points, 300 or more rebounds and 90 or more blocks in a season. Lee is the only player in the nation to average 20 or more points, 10 or more rebounds and 3 or more blocks. She was also picked to the Heartland College Sports All-Big 12 First Team. And, she’s not going anywhere. She told everyone in January she intends to return next season.
Texas: After back-to-back losses to Baylor, Schaefer thought it was time to switch some things up. So he moved guard Shay Holle and forward DeYona Gaston into the starting lineup full-time and slid guards Aliyah Matharu and Audrey Warren to the bench full time. It’s worked. The Longhorns have won their last eight games. That decision may well define how far Texas gets this season. Matharu is still the team’s leading scorer with 12.9 points per game, but the reality is that guards Joanne-Allen Taylor and Harmon are more integral to the offense right now. Warren, Holle and forward Lauren Ebo exemplify the team’s toughness and defense. Their balance is hard-fought and it’s hard to beat.
Kansas State: Head coach Jeff Mittie was hopeful his Wildcats could take a step forward after COVID-19 hit his program hard a year ago, and K-State has. In all likelihood the Wildcats are headed for the NCAA Tournament, regardless of what happens in Kansas City. And while Lee takes up a lot of the spotlight, the Wildcats are more than just their 6-foot-6 center. Guard Serena Sundell was a five-time Big 12 Freshman of the Week and made the conference’s freshman team, along with Brylee Glenn. The Wildcats experienced a downturn to end the season, losing five of their last seven. But when Lee is efficient and the youngsters are firing, the Wildcats are big trouble.
Texas hasn’t won a Big 12 Tournament title since 2003.
Texas 67, Kansas State 62. This will be the closest game of the three meetings, but Texas’ overall offensive tweaks and their proven ability to handle Lee should allow the Longhorns to move on to the semifinals.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.