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Texas women’s basketball hosts Central Arkansas to open NCAA tournament

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The Lady Longhorns will play in front of an Erwin Center crowd at 1:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Texas vs West Virginia Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Karen Aston and the Texas Longhorns women’s basketball team will attempt to shake off the late-season malaise that afflicted the team against the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears on Friday afternoon in the 2017 NCAA tournament.

The Sugar Bears come to Austin to face off against the ‘Horns at 1:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and will look to improve upon a record of 4-4 as the No. 3 seed in March Madness.

"Central Arkansas is a team that I'm somewhat familiar with, more than anything their coach [Sandra Rushing]," said Aston. "They'll be a really well-coached team. You look at their schedule and you see that they have a lot of wins on their schedule. You also see a team that not only won their conference, but also their tournament. They're used to winning and they've had a very, very good year. Everybody's good that's in the tournament and what I think is really important for us is to go back to that one-game-at-a-time mentality."

After winning the Southland Conference regular season and postseason titles, Central Arkansas will challenge any reset of that mentality in the days since the postseason ended for Texas with a loss to eventual champion West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament.

The current 17-game winning streak for the Sugar Bears has come courtesy of a stingy scoring defense that ranks fourth nationally and the efforts of leading scorer Maggie Proffitt, a senior guard who averages 15.6 points per game.

On the interior, centers Kierra Jordan (rebounding) and Raquel Logan (blocked shots) help patrol the paint and will attempt to counteract the efforts of a Longhorns team that makes a living on winning the rebound battle.

On the perimeter, Texas needs standout senior guard Brooke McCarty to hit shots from the outside, as McCarty and Ariel Atkins are the only real three-point threats on the entire team.

Meanwhile, rising freshman wing Joyner Holmes will try to control the pace in transition and take advantage of any mismatches she can create in the open court or on the block.