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GAME PREVIEW: Texas Women's Basketball to face UCLA in Sweet 16

The Texas women’s basketball team returns to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.

The Longhorns beat Alabama State in the first round and former Big 12 foe Missouri in the second round to advance to the round of 16. Texas’ next opponent is No. 3 seed UCLA in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Bruins hosted the first two rounds of the tournament, beating Hawai’i and South Florida to move to third round. UCLA has won 10 of its last 12 games. Both losses in that stretch came against Oregon State, a team who earned a No. 2 seed in Baylor’s region.

Texas is seeing a new offensive spark through its first two games of the tournament. Sophomore guard Ariel Atkins led the team in scoring both games with 15 against Alabama State and 22 against Missouri. The 22 points against the Tigers tied Atkins career high. Atkins entered the tournament averaging 10 points a game. Freshman guard Lashann Higgs is also making good use of her playing time with scoring 10 points in the first game and 11 points in the second game. Higgs is averaging 15 minutes a game.

The Longhorns, as a team, are averaging 79.5 points a game during the tournament. Against Alabama State, they scored 86 points. Previously, Texas only recorded 80-plus points twice during Big 12 play and a total of six times over the whole season.

The Bruins enter the match up averaging 69 points a game during the tournament. UCLA has numerous scoring options with senior guard Nirra Fields leading the way in the tournament by averaging 15 points a game. Sophomore guard Jordin Canada comes in second with 14.5 points.

UCLA led its second round game against South Florida 40-24 at halftime before letting the Bulls back into the game. The Bruins allowed South Florida to come within one point in the second half but held on to win 72-67.

The Texas defense is allowing an average of 48.5 points a game. The Longhorns held Alabama State to a 22.2 shooting percentage and Missouri to a 31.4 shooting percentage. Texas has also outrebounded both of its opponents so far in the tournament, something the Longhorns did often during their regular season.

This is the Bruins first time in the regional semifinals since 1999. The Longhorns are seeking their first Elite Eight appearance since the 2002-03 season when they lost in the Final Four to UCONN. A win over the Bruins this Saturday could set up a match up against the Huskies with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The Bruins and Longhorns tip off at 1:00 CT on Saturday and will be broadcasted on ESPN.

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Aaron Carrara is the founder and publisher of HornSports and has covered University of Texas athletics since 2011. Aaron is a member of the Football Writer's Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and is a proud father to three boys.

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