Jones debuts with 21 as No. 3 Texas stops Louisiana 68-45

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Taylor Jones had 21 points and five blocks in her debut for Texas and the No. 3 Longhorns defeated Louisiana 68-45 Friday night.

The Longhorns opened their season without their best player, point guard Rori Harmon, who wore a protective boot on her right foot. Coach Vic Schaefer said Harmon has a toe injury. He listed her status as day to day.

“It’s nothing major, major,” Schaefer said. “She’s being evaluated daily.”

Harmon, a sophomore, led Texas to the Big 12 tournament championship last season.

Jones, a 6-foot-4 junior transfer from Oregon State, made 6 of 9 shots from the field 9 of 14 free throws while playing 22 minutes.

“We didn’t have an answer for her,” Louisiana coach Garry Brodhead said.

Texas had a major size advantage inside.

“We were a lot taller than them,” Jones said. “They didn’t have an answer to any of us down low.”

Shay Holle produced 10 points and five steals for Texas, and Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda scored 10 and grabbed six rebounds.

Tamera Johnson led Louisiana (0-2) with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Lanay Wheaton scored 13.

Neither team was adept on offense. Texas shot 39% from the field, missing 10 of 11 3-pointers. Louisiana hit 25 percent. Louisiana committed 29 turnovers, and Texas, without Harmon to handle the ball, made 25.

The teams combined for 55 fouls, 28 by Louisiana. Texas made 29 of 38 free throws, Mwenentanda going 8 for 8.

Schaefer was happy with the score, but not how it was attained.

“We’re just not very disciplined, and we are not very tough,” Schaefer said. “That’s on me. I’ve got to coach that.”

Texas played for the first time in its $375 million Moody Center, where the Longhorn men won two games earlier in the week.

BIG PICTURE

Louisiana: The Rajin’ Cajuns were picked by Sun Belt Conference coaches to finish third in the 14-team league. They will have to overcome the loss of their top shooter, Brandi Williams, to a season-ending knee injury, her second in as many years. Williams converted 45 percent of her 3-point attempts in 2020-21 and hit 7 of 11 in three games last season before it was cut short by a knee injury.

Texas: The Longhorns do not have a pure point guard to replace Harmon. Shaylee Gonzales, West Coast Conference player of the year last season at BYU, and Sonya Morris, who transferred from DePaul, handled the job against Louisiana. Morris left during the third quarter with a back problem. Kyndall Hunter, Harmon’s high school teammate in Houston, was regarded as a combo guard when she was recruited. Hunter, a sophomore, has been away from the Longhorns for several weeks, but she is still on the roster. Schaefer deems her absence a “personal” matter.

TOUGH STRETCH

The short-handed Longhorns play at No. 6 UConn on Monday, followed by the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. The event includes No. 5 Tennessee, No. 7 Louisville, No. 23 South Dakota State and UCLA, 27th in votes.

“Nobody’s gonna feel sorry for us,” Schaefer said. “The old thing about you are wounded, people are gonna come after you even worse.”

UP NEXT

Louisiana faces Colorado on Tuesday in Lubbock, Texas, in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

Texas plays at No. 6 UConn on Monday.

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