Texas' Javan Felix, left, tries to get past Texas Tech's Clark Lammert (35) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Big 12 Conference tournament Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Ri
Charlie Riedel
March 11, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Isaiah Taylor kept dumping the ball into the post. Cameron Ridley kept finishing plays.

Texas kept pulling away in a game that it desperately needed.

Behind the inspired play of its flashy point guard and bruising forward, the seventh-seeded Longhorns put away Texas Tech 65-53 on Wednesday night to help its NCAA tournament hopes.

''I thought Isaiah's demeanor was as good as it's been all year in terms of running it for us,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes said. ''And I do think Cam is more confident now. Why he hasn't been, I'm not sure how to answer that.''

Speaking of confidence, the Longhorns (20-12) can feel a whole lot more confident about their NCAA hopes if they can beat No. 2 seed Iowa State in Thursday's quarterfinals. The Cyclones won both meetings with Texas earlier this season.

''I think we have a good chance to get into the tournament,'' Taylor said, ''but right now, that really can't be the focus. We're looking to win the Big 12 tournament.''

Toddrick Gotcher scored 12 points to lead No. 10 seed Texas Tech (13-19), which was outrebounded 39-24 and struggled to deal with the Longhorns' superior size in the post.

Robert Turner and Norense Odiase finished with 11 points apiece for the Red Raiders.

''We needed some more scoring punch,'' Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said.

The Red Raiders hung around into the second half, closing within 35-31 when Turner got a floater to go. But the Longhorns rattled off the next nine points to take control, then slowly extended their advantage over the next several minutes to rob the outcome of drama.

''They really made an emphasis to get it inside to their big guy,'' Odiase said.

That would be Ridley, the 6-foot-9, 285-pound junior.

At one point, he converted three-point plays on back-to-back trips down floor. Ridley also made a nimble putback off his own miss and showcased his athleticism by catching an inbound pass from Taylor above the rim and dunking it with authority.

''That's the way we should play, inside out,'' Ridley said. ''I did a good job of making myself a presence inside and the guards delivered the ball.''

Taylor, so often the Longhorns' scoring leader, was content to be the distributor in this one. After setting up Ridley, he fed Connor Lammert for an easy bucket and a 57-40 lead.

Texas never let Smith's team back into the game, finishing off a sweep of its in-state rival this season with its 14th win in their last 15 meetings.

''The hole we've been trying to dig out of, we just knew we had to win games,'' Barnes said. ''I know everyone is talking about, `We need to win this game, three in a row, four in a row.' I tell everyone, `You need to win `em all.' Because you never know.''

FAREWELL ROBERT

Turner was one of Smith's first recruits at Texas Tech. The transfer from New Mexico Junior College played his final game. ''I really learned a lot that I'll take with me as I continue my journey,'' he said. ''It was a great opportunity to play for Coach Smith and his staff.''

TEAM GAME

The Longhorns finished with 17 assists on 25 made field-goals, and only had nine turnovers as a team. Those numbers helped to offset some lousy shooting - just 4 for 19 from the arc.

TIP-INS

Texas Tech: Devaugntah Williams, coming off a 28-point performance against Baylor, was held to five points on 2-for-10 shooting. ... The Red Raiders were 13-6 at home, 0-13 everywhere else. ... One of their three league wins this season was against the Cyclones.

Texas: The Longhorns have won three straight after a four-game skid, including a win over Baylor. ... Barnes has been under fire despite leading Texas to at least 20 wins for the 15th time in 17 seasons. ... Barnes improved to 33-4 against Texas Tech.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech enters the offseason with a losing record for the fifth straight year.

Texas tries to beat the Cyclones for the first time in three tries this season.

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