No. 4 Texas beats New Mexico 86-37
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) New Mexico coach Yvonne Sanchez has seen some things as she ushered her team through a difficult non-conference schedule.
Just nothing like Texas.
The fourth-ranked Longhorns defeated the Lobos 86-37 on Wednesday night after leading by 49 points in the second half.
New Mexico (1-6) has lost all four of its games against nationally ranked teams but was competitive against Texas A&M and Stanford, each ranked No. 5 at the time of the games. The Lobos lost by 38 to No. 18 DePaul after trailing by 10 at the half.
Sanchez said Texas (6-0) is at a different level.
''I told my team coming in, this is the best team they're gonna play this year, hands down,'' Sanchez said.
Brady Sanders, making her first start of the season, scored 13 points to lead Texas. Sanders, a sophomore guard, replaced freshman Ariel Atkins in the starting lineup. Texas coach Karen Aston said she wanted a mature veteran to set a certain tone, helping the Longhorns maintain concentration during a busy time with basketball games and final exams.
Regardless of whether a lineup change actually mattered, the Longhorns thrashed New Mexico from the start.
''We came out of the gates hard,'' guard Empress Davenport said.
Texas used a couple of devastating and prolonged runs to take a 50-12 halftime lead. The first push was 21-0; the second 14-0.
New Mexico went scoreless for nearly six minutes during the Longhorns' first streak and nearly seven during the second.
Texas did most of its damage with a procession of shots from point-blank range, particularly during the 21-0 surge. The Longhorns made nine layups and one short jump shot in that stretch.
''It was a really, really, really outstanding performance in the first half,'' Aston said.
''Lots of contributions from pretty much everybody who came in the game. Our energy was great.''
Not that it mattered much who started. Twelve of the 13 Texas players who appeared in the game scored as the Longhorns improved to 6-0 to start a season for the first time since 2008-09.
Brianna Taylor and Brooke McCarty scored 11 points apiece for Texas, one more than Tasia Foman. Forward Nneka Enemkpali led Texas in rebounds with 10. Atkins made four of the Longhorns' 15 steals.
Sanders said all that depth could be problematic for opponents.
''You never know who could be the leading scorer or leading rebounder,'' Sanders said. ''I think it's probably hard for people to game-plan for us.''
The Longhorns did most of their damage around the basket, outscoring New Mexico 44-14 in the paint.
Antiesha Brown led New Mexico with 13 points.
Aston knows she does not have a great collection of perimeter shooters - the Longhorns have hit only 31 percent on 3-pointers - and that is of concern.
But the Longhorns, loaded with quick guards and Kelsey Lang, a 6-foot-5 center who has a nice touch around the basket and from mid-range, have become paint-ball wizards, dominating opponents in the lane.
Before Wednesday, they had outscored opponents 35-21 per game in the paint.
''They have talent inside and out,'' Sanchez said. ''They run people in and out.''
Texas: Imani McGee-Stafford, the Longhorns' 6-foot-7 junior center who has yet to play this season because she is recovering from a stress fracture in her left leg, could return to the lineup in December. In the meantime, her 6-5 former backup, sophomore Kelsey Lang, was named Big 12 player of the week after averaging 19 points, with 75 percent shooting accuracy, and 6.5 rebounds against Texas-Pan American and Tennessee.
New Mexico: The Lobos shot 28.9 percent Wednesday - 20.8 in the first half - their most inaccurate performance of the season.
The Longhorns have out-rebounded every opponent so far despite the absence of McGee Stafford. Their only starter taller than 6-1 is Lang, McGee-Stafford's 6-5 replacement. But the 6-1 Enemkpali rebounds well, as do some of the guards.
Texas hosts Southern on Monday.
New Mexico is at New Mexico State on Sunday.