AUSTIN (KXAN) — The No. 12 Texas Longhorns took full advantage of a shorthanded No. 2 Kansas State squad, rolling to a 61-54 win Sunday at Moody Center.
Ayoka Lee, the Wildcats’ 6-foot-6 center, is recovering from ankle surgery and wasn’t available, leaving the paint wide open for Texas post players to operate in. Whether it was Aaliyah Moore, Taylor Jones or DeYona Gaston, the Longhorns cleaned up the boards and racked up the second-chance points.
Moore had 10 rebounds in the first half en route to a game-high 15 while Jones pulled down eight. The duo combined for nine offensive rebounds, and the Longhorns outscored the Wildcats 21-12 in second-chance points with 13 offensive rebounds. Texas outrebounded the Wildcats 39-30 overall.
“We could never get into a rhythm offensively, and that’s a credit to Texas,” Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie said. The Wildcats shot 19 for 53 from the field. “We let the middle part of the game get away from us, but we kept fighting.”
Kansas State went on a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to cut Texas’ lead to 54-47 with 2:26 left, but after a Jones bucket inside, the Longhorns made their foul shots and hung on for the win. Moore hit a pair of free throws late to notch a double-double with 10 points to go with her big rebounding performance.
“We wanted to go inside and use what we had,” Moore said. “Lee is such a great player, but Kansas State is also really good without her.”
Gaston saw her first action in six games coming off an ankle injury, chipping in eight points and three steals. Madison Booker led all scorers with 20 points on 7 for 18 shooting with six assists. She scored 13 points in the second half thanks in part to her razor-sharp midrange jump shot.
“I had to lock in the second half and come back and lead my team,” Booker said. “The player in the first half wasn’t me.”
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The Longhorns led by as much as 19 points in the second half and did a tremendous job running Kansas State off the 3-point line. The Wildcats shot 1 for 9 from long distance in the first half and 2 for 12 in the second half.
“I’m really proud of our defensive effort,” Longhorns head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We made great strides defensively since we were able to play man all night. I’ve told them every day that they are good enough, and we’ve got to keep getting better. We’re way away from our ceiling.”
Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda provided a spark off the bench for the Longhorns, scoring seven points in 13 minutes including a 3-pointer with 1:02 left in the second quarter to give Texas a 29-17 lead.
It’s the second top-15 win of the week for the Longhorns after topping No. 13 Baylor in Waco on Tuesday. Schaefer said he’s going on a recruiting trip early next week, but the team needs to get up some extra shots before their next game. Texas shot 41% from the field for the game.
Texas (21-3, 8-3 Big 12) doesn’t play for almost a week before they head north to Fort Worth on Saturday to take on TCU. Kansas State (20-3, 9-2) hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday.
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