December 08, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Elevated to their highest national ranking in 10 years on Monday morning, the No. 3 Texas women did nothing to tarnish the new status.

Empress Davenport matched her career best with 15 points, most of them during a first-half spree, to help Texas rout Southern 80-42 Monday afternoon.

Nneka Enemkpali added 18 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes and powered Texas' inside game. The Longhorns (7-0) outrebounded Southern 48-22 and outscored the Jaguars 48-8 in the paint. Ariel Atkins, a freshman reserve, scored 12 points for Texas.

Texas was ranked No. 2 in the 2004-05 preseason poll but slid to fourth after losing the second game of the season to No. 5 Georgia.

''It feels good that we are at a place where we are getting some recognition that is deserved at this point today,'' said Karen Aston, the Longhorns' third-year coach who was associate head coach in 2004-05. ''But it doesn't mean a whole lot. We all understand that. It's early in the season. We have so much work to do.''

For example, Aston said she was not pleased with her team's 15 turnovers. Enemkpali committed five of them, four in the first half.

''I thought we played recklessly,'' Aston said. ''We didn't need to be turning over against this team. I didn't think they didn't do anything we haven't seen before.''

Texas has four victories this season with margins of 20 points or more.

At a point when they feel victory is secure, the Longhorns can focus on self-improvement.

''Once we're up by a lot, it's not really about attacking a team, it's about focusing on what we need to get better at,'' Atkins said.

Kendra Coleman led Southern (1-5) with 17 points but made only 5 of 20 shots. Nobody else scored more than six points.

Britney Washington, Southern's leading scorer with 19 points a game, did not play. Associate head coach Carlos Funchess said Washington's absence was a disciplinary measure.

''We thought it was best she didn't play,'' Funchess said.

Southern trailed by 11 midway through the first half. Davenport scored 12 straight points in a span of barely two minutes. She scored her 15 points in 17 minutes.

Aston has a way of preventing complacency among her guards: depth. Aston has eight of them, all averaging nine minutes or more. What does Aston demand to earn playing time?

''Execution is first,'' senior Krystle Henderson, a backup point guard, said. ''And defense, hustle plays. But we all give effort, so you have to do a little more.

''It's really a competition to make us be on our A game.''

TIP-INS

Texas: The Longhorns' 7-0 start is their best since their 11-0 beginning to the 2008-09 season. To improve to 12-0, the Longhorns would have to defeat just one nationally ranked team in the next five games, No. 5 Texas A&M, their former rival in the Southwest and Big 12 conferences.

Southern: Ranked 303rd among 343 NCAA Division I teams in field goal accuracy with a 34.9 percent mark before Monday. The Jaguars didn't help themselves by shooting 29.2 percent against Texas.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

The game began at 11 a.m. local time as part of the Longhorns' fourth annual 40 Acres Field Trip. Central Texas students in grades four through seven were invited to attend for free. Brady Sanders, a sophomore guard for Texas, enjoyed the guests.

''I used to be a little kid and I would look up to players,'' she said. ''So it's an awesome experience being part of the team now knowing these little kids are looking up to me and my teammates. Having all those kids there, it's an opportunity for us to gain more fans. Maybe they'll come back and bring a friend.''

UP NEXT

Texas hosts Northwestern State on Sunday

Southern plays at Arizona on Thursday

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