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Texas native Jefferson looks to stay hot as Huskies take on SMU

Averaging 19 points per game in her last five, Moriah Jefferson returns home to Texas on fire as the No. 2 Huskies take on SMU in Dallas.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot to do in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this weekend.

The College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played Monday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Today, the Dallas Cowboys are in Green Bay to play the Packers. And the defending national champion UConn women’s basketball team is in town to play the SMU Mustangs at 3 p.m. (SNY, ESPN3).

The No. 2 Huskies (13-1, 3-0 American) are making their only appearance in the state of Texas this year. It is a Moriah Jefferson homecoming game. Jefferson, the 5-foot-7-inch junior guard, is from nearby Glen Heights, about 20 miles south of Moody’s Coliseum on the SMU campus.

Jefferson comes into today’s game on fire. She struggled on both ends of the court early in the season, but since conference play began she has stepped it up to All-American levels. She is averaging just over 19 points per game in her last five games. It all started against the Mustangs on Dec. 27 in Hartford where she scored a career-high 24 points. Jefferson has continued to be consistent and a threat on the offensive end of the court.

The first nine games of the season, Jefferson averaged 8.7 points per game. Most notably, she was a non-factor in UConn’s lone loss at Stanford in November and scored no points and fouled out in a win against No. 2 Notre Dame.

Jefferson’s team will be playing in the state of Texas for the fifth time in the last three years. They will not play at Houston this year. Last season, UConn visited the state of Texas three times with wins against SMU, Houston and Baylor. Depending on how the schedule works out next season, this could be Jefferson’s last homecoming game.

Jefferson’s production has eased the scoring burden on Breanna Stewart. She has forced defenses to guard her instead of backing off of her to take open shots.

Today’s game should be no different than the previous match-ups with SMU (4-10, 0-3 American). The Mustangs have lost seven straight games and lost to UConn 96-45 in Hartford last month. The Huskies lead the brief two-year series with the Mustangs 3-0.

One important thing to look forward to in today’s game is to see if Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis can break a tie with Diana Taurasi for career 3-pointers. The next one KML hits will be her 319th, breaking Taurasi’s record.

Moreover, what will the UConn bench do against another inferior opponent?

Expect to see the bench play more quality minutes during this game and have a better performance than they did against Tulsa last Wednesday night. Against the Golden Hurricane, the UConn bench was outscored by 10 points during the final 15 minutes of the second half in the 98-60 win making the final margin a lot closer than what the game really was.

There are still many questions about the consistency of the UConn bench. Can Geno Auriemma find any answers from them today? Can Gabby Williams be consistent? Can Saniya Chong play productive minutes in the backcourt? Can Courtney Ekmark contribute?