The No. 19 Texas Longhorns (2-3) will take on the Princeton Tigers (3-1) on Sunday at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+, with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.
Texas has had a tough start to the season. It’s lost more games than it’s won, which this early into a season usually means you're nowhere near a Top 25-ranked team, but when those losses come from teams like No. 3 UConn and No. 10 Louisville, exceptions are made. However, a loss against Princeton on Sunday will have the Longhorns on the outside looking in on the top-ranked teams list.
Sonya Morris and Aaliyah Moore will have to lead the charge to avoid a fourth loss in six games. Morris needs to continue her offensive production. She leads the team in points, averaging 12.6 per game, but her shooting is at 36 percent. Can she be a bit more efficient while leading the offense?
Moore, meanwhile, has improved from last season, becoming the post presence the Longhorns need. She's finishing in the paint, scoring 12 points a night, and she’s cleaning the glass; she leads the team in rebounding with 5.4 per game. If Moore continues on her trajectory, she will not only raise the ceiling of this team, but her limits will be roofless.
For Princeton, it starts and ends with Julia Cunningham. She's the leader and senior captain, and she’s top-three in points, rebounds, and minutes played for the team. Other players excel in different aspects, but she is a jack of all trades for the Tigers. If she gets going, she could ignite a run and give Princeton a chance at pulling off an upset.
Cunningham might be the captain, but Kaitlyn Chen has been the bucket-getter. She leads the team with 14.5 points a game and gives them a respectable three-point shooter who can help spread the floor. Another key player in this matchup will be Ellie Mitchell. She has always been a great rebounder, but she's putting up godly numbers this year, averaging 16.3 boards a game, which puts her as the No. 1 rebounder in the country. It does not seem possible for these numbers to be sustained all year long, but Mitchell will try to maintain this production on Sunday.
Are the Longhorns unlucky or overrated to start the season? I think we'll have a better idea after Sunday's game. They should win easily and take care of business. If they don't, maybe they just aren't who many thought they were back in October. For Princeton to pull off the upset, they'll either need the trio of Mitchell, Chen and Cunnigham to be at their best or get help from role players like Paige Morton and Chet Nweke. The opening ten minutes or so of this game will be critical. Can Texas show up and outclass Princeton from tip-off, or will the Tigers be the aggressor and test the Longhorns’ grit to grind out another early-season win? We will find out on Sunday.