December 01, 2014

Texas has a showdown with No. 1 Kentucky looming later in the week, but it's not overlooking a matchup with a Texas-Arlington team that nearly pulled off a stunner last season in Austin.

The sixth-ranked Longhorns look to continue their defensive dominance as they host the Mavericks on Tuesday night.

Texas (6-0) began a tough stretch by winning 55-54 at then-No. 24 UConn on Sunday, as Jonathan Holmes hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds remaining to help the Longhorns overcome their worst shooting effort of the season.

''The first look was for Myles (Turner) slipping to the basket,'' Holmes said. ''The second was for me getting screened into the corner, and that was about as open as you could hope for.''

Holmes finished with 13 points, going 4 of 7 from 3-point range but 0 for 6 inside the arc. Texas shot 37 percent from the field.

''I told the team in the locker room that the only time they really listened and did what we asked was the last play,'' coach Rick Barnes said. ''But up until that point I kept looking at the guys and said, `What are we doing?'''

Barnes was referring to the offense, because his squad did exactly what has been asked of it all season defensively. UConn was limited to 30.4 percent, and no opponent has shot better than 31.3.

Texas ranks second in the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 29.9 and 11th in points allowed with 52.5. Turner had five blocks Sunday for a Longhorns team that ranks fourth nationally with 7.5 per game.

Each of those numbers rank behind those of the Wildcats, who host Texas on Friday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The Longhorns may not get an easy tuneup against the Mavericks (3-3), who almost pulled off an upset in last season's meeting.

UT-Arlington led by as many as nine in the second half, but Demarcus Holland scored a career-high 23 points - including a steal and dunk with just over a minute remaining - and grabbed 11 rebounds in Texas' 72-69 win last Nov. 29.

Guard Isaiah Taylor had 10 points in that contest, and he was averaging 15.0 this season before breaking his left wrist Nov. 20 against Iowa. Holland and Javan Felix each had 10 points against UConn and have been pushing the tempo in place of Taylor, who is out indefinitely.

Barnes also has been impressed with Holland's defense, which the Longhorns may need against an Arlington team that has scored more than 80 points three times.

The Mavericks, though, were a victim of Kentucky's stout defense last Tuesday, shooting 27 percent in a 92-44 loss. They had a better offensive showing Saturday, but a poor defensive effort contributed to a 104-81 defeat to Montana State.

Johnny Hill, Drew Charles and Lonnie McClanahan scored 12 points apiece. McClanahan, a sophomore reserve guard who scored 13 in a starting role against Texas last season, is averaging a team-high 12.0 points.

The Longhorns have won all nine meetings.

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