UT Women’s Basketball to play host to NCAA First and Second Rounds

Filed under: Sports,UT Women's Basketball |

Longhorns face Alabama State on Saturday at 8 p.m. CT.

AUSTIN, Texas –

The second-seeded Longhorns will be joined in Austin by seventh-seeded BYU, 10th-seeded Missouri and 15th-seeded Alabama State. Texas will open up its NCAA quest on Saturday by playing host to 15th-seeded Alabama State at 8 p.m. Central.

Duncanville's Empress Davenport - Photo from TexasSports.com

Duncanville’s Empress Davenport – Photo from TexasSports.com

Texas is making its 29th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and holds an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 35-27. UT is hosting the NCAA First and Second Rounds for the first time since 2010 and the sixth time since 1997. Texas is 19-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played at home.

The Longhorns are a No. 2 seed for the fifth time in program history (1983, 1984, 1989, 2003) and are 10-4 all-time as a No. 2 seed. It is Texas’ best NCAA Tournament seed since earning a No. 1 seed in 2004.

Texas has posted one of the finest regular seasons in program history, notching a 28-4 overall record and a 15-3 mark in Big 12 Conference play. The Longhorns have recorded their most overall victories since the 2003-04 season and tied the 2002-03 club with the most Big 12 Conference wins (15) in school history.

Coach Karen Aston and the Longhorn faithful. Photo from TexasSports.com

Coach Karen Aston and the Longhorn faithful. Photo from TexasSports.com

The Longhorns are 6-4 (.600) this season against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top-25 at game time. Texas also has a pair of top-10 victories to its credit this year. The Longhorns have been ranked among the nation’s top-15 teams the entire season, including ranking among the AP top-10 every week since Nov. 23. Texas spent six weeks ranked in the AP top-five.

NCAA FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS – AUSTIN, TEXAS

Saturday, March 19, 2016 (NCAA First Round)
5:30 p.m. – No. 7 BYU vs. No. 10 Missouri (TV ESPN2)
8 p.m. – No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Alabama State (TV ESPN2)

Monday, March 21, 2016 (NCAA Second Round)
TBD – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 (TV TBD)

Texas Head Coach Karen Aston

On getting a No. 2 seed and playing the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Austin …
“The best thing I can say is that we’ve come a long way in a short period of time, and I’m thrilled, thrilled, thrilled with the fact we get to host in Austin. I think I’ll start with that and say that that’s from a body of work. You have to put in consistent work all year long to get the recognition that you need to be able to host. So I’m excited. Really, really excited for our team and our fans that came every night to support us, knowing that was one of our goals.”

On if the No. 2 seed is the next step in the progression of the program …
“It absolutely is. Last year we got a better seed, and we had an opportunity to go to the Sweet 16 and you want to continue to take those steps. And one of those steps, obviously, is being one of those top 16.”

On if the team needs to focus on success at home before looking ahead …
“Absolutely. I sort of want to educate everyone, which is the reason why the NCAA and the women’s basketball coaches decided to go back to hosting was because of the lack of crowds that were happening when they were predetermined sites. So we went back last year to hosting, it was a significant difference in the crowds in the first round games. The young people want to play in front of fans so I would absolutely say that is a huge thing for us. I think everybody can see how good we are at home. We’ve lost one game at home this year. It’s a significant advantage for us if we prepare ourselves to play.”

On her team’s motivation …
“I think this whole year, the motivation was to have a better showing; there’s no question about that. There’s a process to this, and you don’t want to skip over the first round and the second round and all of that because when you talk about our program and the growth of it, I’m not sure if we’re at that point where we can look ahead. I think for some people it becomes a tradition that they know they’re already in the Sweet 16 and they really have that kind of understanding of the tournament. But I do think that we still have to stay in the moment. I think we have to take the first game and hopefully we get to that second one and then we’ll reset and see what happens after that. But I feel like our team is still growing in the area of learning how to handle the tournament.”

On any frustration into being placed in the Bridgeport Regional with UConn …
“No. I would have to look at RPIs and strength of schedules and all that to say that we didn’t deserve to be the final two seed. I’m just pleased that we are a two seed. You’re talking about a team that, three years ago, barely got into the tournament. Now we’re a two seed and we’re hosting and we’re doing things that top programs are supposed to do. And I’m proud. I don’t want to look at the negatives out of that. I don’t want to worry about who’s way down the road because we have to stay in the moment with this team.”

Senior center Imani Boyette

On focusing on the NCAA First Round …
“We need to figure out who Alabama State is as a team, what they do well, and get ready to prepare for them because a win is not guaranteed.”

On Texas hosting the NCAA First and Second Rounds …
“Hosting just shows that we’re on the right path and we’re bringing back women’s basketball prominence in Austin. It’s fun and it just validates all of our hard work this season.”

On Texas being placed in the Bridgeport Regional with No. 1 UConn …
“UConn earned their No. 1 spot and so did every other No. 1 seed. We weren’t a No. 1  seed, so I don’t think beggars can be choosers. We’re excited to be in the tournament. Period.”

On having extended rest since the Big 12 Championship Tournament …
“We just had a lot of time in the gym to work on some things. There’s a couple things that we kind of let go of in terms of discipline at the end of the season, so we had time to work on the details and get back and work on ourselves before we found out who we would play. And now we go back to scouting.”

Senior guard Brady Sanders

On her initial thoughts following the NCAA Selection Show …
“It’s going to be a good experience. We get to play on our home court again and we get to wear our uniforms each game. It’s great. This team has worked so hard and we definitely deserve to be in this position. It’s an exciting time for all of us, especially the young ones. They get their first year going to the NCAAs, which, unfortunately in our first year, we didn’t have that happen. It’s just one thing we’re really excited about. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.”

On being an experienced team after consistently improving since her freshman year …  
“I feel like that’s one of the advantages with this team, it’s that we know what to expect and this is what we expect for us. This is what we’ve worked for every day, throughout the summer and throughout the season. To finally be here, it’s not, like, a shock; this is exactly what we expected and so I think we’re really prepared and we’re ready to prepare for our first game.”

Sophomore guard Ariel Atkins

On the importance of taking care of business in the NCAA First Round …
“We have to play Alabama State first and foremost. We have to focus on the first game. You don’t survive games, you have to win a game to get to the next one so we’re really focused on Saturday.”

On having extended rest since the Big 12 Championship Tournament …
“I think it just gave us time to regroup mentally and the time will give us some things to tweak and work on that we knew we needed to work on for this Saturday.”