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Mar 22, 2024 - News

The UT women take the hard court

University of Texas' Madison Booker swoops in for a layup.

Madison Booker swoops in for a layup. Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The University of Texas women's basketball team kicks off its NCAA tournament Friday, competing as a No. 1 seed for the first time since 2004.

Why it matters: With famous players like Caitlin Clark in the mix, this edition of the women's tournament promises to be the most high-profile ever, so a deep run by the Longhorns could build campus support for a program that often plays second fiddle to the men's squad.

  • And the higher exposure could boost recruiting.

Catch up quick: The Texas women's team is led by phenom Madison Booker, who is the first freshman in Big 12 women's basketball history to earn the player of the year award.

  • Booker, a small forward, had to step into a ball-handling role at the end of December after UT star point guard Rori Harmon, a player of the year contender, tore her ACL in practice.
  • At the time the Longhorns were 13-0, ranked fifth in the country and had already notched a victory over perennial power Connecticut.

What happened: Instead of unraveling, the Longhorns made it work, with Booker leading a team with defensive stopper Shay Holle, a junior guard out of Westlake, forward Aaliyah Moore, guard Shaylee Gonzales and inside presence Taylor Jones.

  • The Longhorns finished with a 30-4 record and winner of the Big 12 tournament.

What they're saying: "It's obvious that having the ball in Madison Booker's hands is a pretty good thing," Vic Schaefer, the excitable head coach of the Longhorns, told Yahoo Sports.

Zoom out: This is the year of women's college basketball, with Caitlin Clark of Iowa the most recognizable athlete in the men's or women's game.

  • Texas is a comparatively low-radar team as subplots abound involving squads like heavy favorite South Carolina, defending champion LSU and star-powered USC.

Zoom in: At UT, the women's team trails the men's squad in popularity — and, of course, everyone operates in the wake of the football team.

By the numbers: Average attendance at the women's basketball team's home games was 6,590 — and 10,682 for the men's.

If you go: UT's game against 16-seed Drexel is at 2pm at the Moody Center and will be broadcast on ESPNU.

What's next: If UT wins, it'll face the winner of Alabama-Florida State on Sunday, also at the Moody Center, with a time to be determined after the first round.

The bottom line: "We're all about pressure, we're all about things being difficult, and we get past it," Moore told reporters last weekend after the Longhorns were awarded a No. 1 seed.


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