AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — In the week of practice leading up to Texas' showdown against Rice on Saturday, head coach Rick Barnes stressed to Sheldon McClellan the importance of rebounding in staying in the flow of the game.
The advice appeared to pay off as the sophomore swingman grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to go along with 14 points as the Longhorns defeated Rice 57-41 in their final non-conference tuneup before starting Big 12 competition.
"The coaches wanted me to be aggressive on both ends," McClellan said. "Not just scoring, but also rebounding. I thought I did a better job focusing on that side of the ball today."
Julien Lewis added 12 points, and Jonathon Holmes had eight boards as Texas (8-5) improved to 7-0 against the Owls under Barnes.
Austin Ramljak scored 14 points for Rice (3-9), which plays at Harvard on Jan. 5 and begins Conference USA competition Jan. 9 against Southern Mississippi. Tamir Jackson had 12 points, and Keith Washington had six rebounds.
The Owls established an early 19-13 advantage, but Texas came back to tie the score at 22 about four minutes before halftime. The Longhorns briefly moved ahead, but Ramljak hit a jumper to send the teams into the break tied at 26.
In the second half, Texas used a late 12-1 run to pull away, capped by a 3-pointer from McClellan with 2:10 to play that made it 53-39.
The Longhorns play Baylor on Jan. 5.
Texas came into the game with the nation's best 3-pointer percentage defense, but Rice made five of its 13 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half.
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