No. 3 Texas cruises to 77-54 win over Rice
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Nneka Enemkpali is an all-Big 12 forward with the approach of role player.
''To bring energy,'' the Texas senior. ''To be that motor for us.''
Enemkpali used that drive to produce 14 points and 14 rebounds and help the Longhorns beat Rice 77-54 Tuesday night in its final tune-up before Big 12 competition begins on Saturday.
Enempkali, undersized for a power forward at 6-foot-1, has produced double-doubles in five consecutive games, averaging 16.2 points and 12.8 rebounds during that span. She had her double against Rice in the first half - 10 points and 13 rebounds.
''She's a warrior,'' Rice coach Greg Williams said. ''I have a lot of respect for how she plays the game.''
Empress Davenport scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half for Texas (11-0). Freshman Brooke McCarty, a reserve, also scored 13.
Alyssa Lang led Rice (5-6) with career-best 17 points, and Breion Allen scored 12. The Owls shot just 28 percent, second lowest by a Texas opponent this season. Rice was outscored 48-16 in the paint.
The Owls missed eight shots and committed five turnovers before scoring its first points nearly five minutes into the game. They trailed 9-0.
''I felt like we played scared,'' Williams said. ''Like we didn't want to be in the gym at times.''
The Longhorns' 11-0 record matches their best start since the 2008-09 season. They have defeated three teams that were ranked among the top six in the country when they played.
Texas brings its unblemished record to Big 12 competition, starting against Kansas on Saturday in Austin.
''We've worked for that,'' said guard Brady Sanders, who had six assists against Rice. ''Now we have to re-focus.''
Texas coach Karen Aston said she is proud of what the Longhorns have accomplished.
''There has to be something special about a team that played against the level of competition we've played and came out unscathed,'' Aston said.
Texas faced Rice without starting center Kelsey Lang, a sophomore who banged her right knee in practice on Saturday. The 6-foot-5 Lang averages 13.5 points, tied for the team lead, and 6.5 rebounds.
Lang's absence was a precautionary measure, Aston said. Lang is expected to play against Kansas.
Aston hopes that Lang, and others, will supplement the rebounding of Enemkpali, who leads the Big 12 with 10 a game. She also averages 13.5 points a game.
''Nneka has a sense of urgency right now,'' Aston said. ''She's playing like a senior should.''
Texas: The Longhorns' 11-game winning streak is the longest in Karen Aston's three seasons as head coach. . The Longhorns added some depth to their frontcourt this week with the addition of 6-foot-4 junior Sara Hattis, who joined them after finishing her season with the Texas volleyball team. Hattis also made that transition as a freshman - but not last season -- and played more than eight minutes a game.
Rice: The game on Tuesday was the first matching Rice and Texas since 1996, the final year of the Southwest Conference. .The Owls have a 1-33 record against Texas after the loss Tuesday. Their only victory over the Longhorns was in 1995 - and it was by 20 points, in Austin.
NO TIMETABLE FOR MISSING LONGHORN
Freshman guard Ariel Atkins has missed the last four games with an injured right ankle that she suffered during practice in early December. Atkins, the team's third-leading scorer with 10.6 points a game, is out indefinitely.
Texas hosts Kansas on Saturday.
Rice is at Texas-San Antonio on Friday.