AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Brady Sanders scored nine points, sparking the big second-half burst for No. 4 Texas as the Longhorns ended a two-game losing skid with a 55-44 win over Texas Tech on Saturday.
The Longhorns had one of the best starts in school history before losing consecutive games at Iowa State and Oklahoma. The return home produced a return to form as Texas outscored Texas Tech 24-10 in the paint and got 41 points off the bench.
Sanders scored seven in a two-minute burst in the second half that opened up a double-digit lead after the Lady Raiders had pulled within four.
Nekia Jones added 11 points for the Longhorns (14-2, 3-2 Big 12), which held Texas Tech to 27 percent shooting.
Amber Battle scored 10 points for the Lady Raiders (12-5, 2-3).
Texas was one of the most impressive teams in the country over the first two months of the season with three wins over top 10 teams all away from home. But that came crashing down with consecutive losses at Iowa State and Oklahoma, and the defeats dropped Texas out of first place in the Big 12.
Against Texas Tech, the Longhorns showed how deep their bench can go and showed signs of getting healthier, despite some offensive problems.
The Longhorns had their lowest-scoring game of the season as no starter had more than seven points. But guards Brianna Taylor (left knee) and Ariel Atkins (right ankle) were cleared to play after missing several games and both returned in the first half. Taylor’s first basket in three weeks gave Texas its first lead in a 10-0 Longhorns run.
Imani McGee-Stafford, who also missed the first eight games, tied her season high with eight points in just 11 minutes in the first half. At 6-foot-7, she and forward Nneka Enemkpali make a formidable and physical frontcourt for the Longhorns.
Enemkpali, the Big 12’s leading rebounder, had a rare off day with seven points and eight rebounds after eight double-doubles in the previous nine games.
Texas Tech has already had a remarkable turnaround in coach Candi Whitaker’s second season. The Lady Raiders were 6-24 overall and 0-18 in the Big 12 last season. Last week’s win at West Virginia was the program’s first road victory in almost two years.
A top five road win would have been even bigger. The Lady Raiders pulled within 32-28 on a 3-pointer by Ivonne CookTaylor before Texas used a 6-0 run to quickly push the lead back to 10. Sanders, who scored all of her points in the second half, made a 3-pointer that put Texas ahead 43-33 with 7:58 to play.
Texas Tech: Austin has historically been tough on the Red Raiders, who are just 7-31 on the Longhorns’ home court since the series began in 1977.
Texas: Despite a huge game from reserves, Texas is struggling offensively. The Longhorns have scored less than 60 points the last three games.
Texas Tech: Hosts Kansas on Wednesday night.
Texas: Travels to No. 3 Baylor on Monday night
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