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The Texas/Oklahoma rivalry, formed in 1900 when the Longhorns were still called “Varsity,” has typically been fought on the gridiron. And though the game is usually competitive, the Longhorn and Sooner football teams haven’t both been ranked at the occasion of their meeting in more than three years. But on a chilly Saturday in late January, the Red River Rivalry had real implications in women’s basketball, with two top-20 teams tipping off in Austin. Facing off against #19 Oklahoma, the #6 Longhorns were looking for another statement win against their mortal enemies to the north. Perhaps just as importantly for head coach Karen Aston’s senior players: another crack at a Sooner team that has had Texas’ number since Aston was hired before the 2012-13 season, when players like Imani Boyette and Empress Davenport were mere freshmen. No matter. The Longhorns handled the Sooners, taking the game 83-76, behind dual 18-point efforts by those very seniors.

The game was a shining example of the Longhorns’ season to this point: a consistent performance all around, highlighted by superior showings by the senior leaders. So far this season, the Longhorns have taken down vaunted superpowers Tennessee and Stanford and steamrolled most of the Big 12 while averaging just under 75 points per game.

It also signaled a continued lack of exposure for a team as talented as it is. Last season, the Longhorns ranked 31st in average home attendance, trailing small schools like Toledo and Middle Tennessee. While average announced attendance has ticked up from around 3,300 to just under 4,000 per game this season, one of the best games in town is still largely invisible. As the Longhorns gear up for the Big 12 Championship and eventually the NCAA Tournament, Aston’s squad has sent a message to Longhorn faithful and the rest of the nation.

They’re all in.


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