by RENALDO

Following her personal standout freshman season, Lashann Higgs and her Texas Longhorns are expected to be major contenders for the Big 12 Conference title.

According to a vote of the league’s head coaches, the Longhorns are predicted to finish second behind Baylor and also finished with a single first place vote.

The Longhorns are coming off a 31-5 record and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 2015-16. Texas went 15-3 to finish second in the league and tied the school record for most Big 12 victories with 15. The Longhorns have appeared in back-to-back Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship games.

Higgs finished with a career high 19 points in the Longhorns’ 86-65 loss to the eventual champion UConn Huskies in the Bridgeport Regional Semi-final in April.

She also added four rebounds and two steals. It was the second consecutive season the Huskies ended the year for the Longhorns after they routed them by 50 in the 2015 Sweet 16.

Higgs appeared in 34 games and finished the year averaging 7.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in 13.2 minutes.

The Harbour Island native has led the Longhorns in scoring three times this season, including in games against then ranked No. 4 Tennessee and No. 4 Baylor.

She led the Longhorns with 48 steals and was its fifth-leading scorer. She was fourth in field goal percentage at 41 per cent.

She came into the season heralded as the preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year and after a slow start, had a breakout 10-rebound, six-point performance against Rice.

She followed with her previous career high with the 18-point outburst against Tennessee in what was a renaissance season for the Longhorns programme with their first 31-win season since 1987-88.

Out of Cedar Ridge High in Round Rock, Texas, Higgs’ list of accolades included the USA Today American Family Insurance All-USA First-Team and the Max Preps Girls Basketball All-American Second-Team.

They also included a Naismith Trophy top-five finalist, Naismith Trophy All-America First Team, McDonald’s All-American, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American, USA Today ALL-USA First Team, Austin American-Statesman Central, Texas Player of the Year, Jordan Brand Classic, Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 6A All-State and University Interscholastic League District 13-6A MVP.

Higgs competed in the Jordan Brand Classic and also became the first Bahamian to be named a McDonald’s All-American.

The Longhorns opened official practice last Monday and are ranked in the top-10 of nearly every major preseason poll.

The Longhorns open regular season play November 14, against Stanford in a game televised live on ESPN2.

The Longhorns host an exhibition game against Tarleton State at Gregory Gym on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. CT.

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