Turner lifts No. 6 Texas over UT-Arlington 63-53
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) The defending national champs in their rearview mirror and top-ranked Kentucky up next, the No. 6 Texas Longhorns could be forgiven for thinking they could take few relaxing days midweek.
The problem was they first had to dispatch the Texas-Arlington Mavericks. That proved a bit tougher than anyone expected.
Freshman Myles Turner scored 18 points to carry Texas to a lethargic 63-53 win Tuesday night before the Longhorns head to Lexington for the SEC/Big12 challenge.
''We came out slow,'' said Longhorns senior Jonathan Holmes, who had nine points, 16 rebounds and three of Texas' 13 blocks. ''We understand if we do this against Kentucky we're not going to win.''
Texas (7-0), which beat defending national champion Connecticut on Holmes' last-second 3-pointer on Sunday, struggled for long stretches and often got sloppy against the Mavericks, who lost by 48 to Kentucky last week.
The Longhorns shot just 30 percent, but went 22 of 27 from the free throw line and won the rebounding 52-25. Turner was 14 of 17 from the line.
''We came in thinking we're going to score a whole bunch of points,'' Turner said. ''When we can play as bad as we did ... it's great we can pull it out as a team.''
Greg Gainey scored nine points to lead Texas-Arlington (3-4), which has lost three in a row.
Texas missed 12 of its first 15 shots and the Mavericks made six 3-pointers in the first half. They led 18-13 before Texas used stout defense by Holmes to start a 17-2 run to grab a lead the Longhorns wouldn't relinquish but also couldn't stretch.
Holmes had consecutive blocks at the rim, one denying a dunk, as Texas finally came to life. Turner made five consecutive free throws and Holmes had another block before Cam Ridley dunked on the other end for a 32-22 Texas lead.
The Mavericks refused to let Texas pull away. Texas had three quick turnovers to start the second half and Texas-Arlington was within 44-41 with 11 minutes to play.
Turner then scored eight consecutive points and the Longhorns pushed the lead back to double digits on a dunk by Ridley with just over five minutes left.
Texas-Arlington coach Scott Cross said the Mavericks likely caught a Texas team drained by the holiday weekend trip to Connecticut. He still came away impressed by the Longhorns.
''I would assume the huge win they had and the emotions they had, I'm sure that put a toll on their players,'' Cross said. ''When I left Kentucky I didn't think anybody in the country could play with them.
''Their big guys are just as good as Kentucky. They probably have as good a chance as anybody in the country to play with them,'' Cross said.
The Longhorns got a scare in the first half when point guard Javan Felix limped to the bench with a sore left foot that had bothered him earlier in the season. The Longhorns already are missing starter Isaiah Taylor with a broken left wrist. Being down two point guards in Lexington would have been troubling, but Felix returned three minutes later.
More troublesome for Texas will be the recent lack of rebounding from Ridley, who is a key part of the Longhorns' physically imposing frontcourt. Ridley had no rebounds in Texas' win over Connecticut and had only two Tuesday night.
''I don't think he's playing real confident right now,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes said. ''Players go through it some. He'll get back into it.''
Texas: The Longhorns have held their first seven opponents under 60 points, the first time that's happened since the 1950-51 season.
UT-Arlington: The Mavericks have played in three different conferences the last three seasons, jumping from the Southland to Western Athletic Conference before last season's move to the Sun Belt, where they were picked in the preseason to finish fourth.
STATS: Texas-Arlington made six 3-pointers in the first half but just one in the second ... Texas had eight blocks in the first half ... The Longhorns missed 42 of 60 shots.
STREAKS: Texas is 7-0 for the first time since the 2009-2010 season when the Longhorns started 17-0 and rose to No. 1 in the country.
Texas plays at No. 1 Kentucky on Friday night
Texas-Arlington hosts Weber State on Saturday