AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas' Big 12 losing skid is over. The Longhorns finally found a way to not only build a big lead but to keep it and win.
Julien Lewis scored a season-high 18 points, leading Texas to a 73-57 win over Texas Tech on Saturday night, the Longhorns' first in the Big 12 after an 0-5 start.
"It feels real good," Lewis said. "From now on, we just have to keep winning. It starts now. It's like a new season for us."
The "old" season was one of blown leads, inconsistent play, injuries and the NCAA suspension of starting point guard Myck Kabongo until mid-February. The "new" one — for one game at least — saw Texas get a spark from unexpected places on offense and defense.
Ioannis Papapetrou scored 15 points and Demarcus Holland 11 for the Longhorns (9-10, 1-5). Sheldon McClellan, Texas' leading scorer on the season, started for the first time in five games and finished with 10 points.
Texas won for the first time since Dec. 29 and ended its worst losing streak in the Big 12 since the conference began play in the 1996-97 season.
"It's definitely a relief," Papapetrou said. "We were winning other games too, and the other teams came back. We just stayed with it and got the win."
Jordan Tolbert had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Texas Tech (9-9, 2-5). The Red Raiders have lost 17 in a row in Austin dating back to 1996.
Texas dominated play under the basket in the first half, outscoring Texas Tech 24-6 in the paint and building 35-24 lead at halftime. Texas led 23-20 before closing the half with a 12-4 run sparked by a 3-pointer by Holland, who followed it with a steal and dunk.
McClellan, who has struggled to stay in coach Rick Barnes' lineup, made his first start since the Big 12 opener against Baylor on Jan. 5, but was mostly ineffective with 2 of 7 shooting. Holland and Lewis provided the early scoring spark, combining for 17 points in the first half. Texas was missing leading rebounder Jonathan Holmes, who is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his right hand, but Cameron Ridley dominated the boards with nine first-half rebounds.
"Cam definitely set the tone we wanted early with his intensity inside," Barnes said.
Texas gave up a double-digit lead in a home loss to Kansas a week earlier, but was in total control of the Red Raiders just a few minutes after halftime. Lewis scored five in a row and swished a 3-pointer that put Texas ahead 42-26.
Texas forced the Red Raiders into 19 turnovers and converted them into 22 points.
"It's basically impossible to win like that," Texas Tech interim coach Chris Walker said.
He added: "Texas has lost some tough games. You can't look at their record. They played some tough teams. They're a bunch of young guys."
Texas Tech cut the lead to 52-44 on a 3-pointer by Jaye Crockett with just over seven minutes left but never threatened again. The Longhorns scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer by Papapetrou, to end the rally.
"We haven't responded the way we've liked, but tonight we did," Barnes said. "We haven't harped on (the losing) as much as we've harped on why we're not winning. I don't think these guys ever thought they weren't good enough."