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Published on NewsOK Modified: December 30, 2013 at 4:09 pm •  Published: December 30, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Jonathan Holmes scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half as Texas cruised to a 66-44 victory over Rice on Monday.

The Longhorns (11-2), who did not win their 11th game last season until mid-February, wrapped up nonconference play with their ninth straight win over the Owls (5-7), who never held a lead in the game.

Holmes scored the first five points of the contest before a Keith Washington 3-pointer tied the game at 8. That was the closest Rice ever got as Texas scored the next five points of the game before going on a 13-2 run to put the game away before halftime.

The Longhorns outrebounded the Owls 22-11 in the first half on their way to taking a 37-19 lead into the second half and never looked back.

Despite getting only 10 points between guards Isaiah Taylor, Javan Felix and Demarcus Holland - who came into the game averaging a combined 34.5 points per game - Texas dominated near the basket, outscoring Rice 34-14 in the paint and not allowing any first-half fast-break points.

Cam Ridley scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half while Connor Lammert finished with 10 points and six rebounds for the Longhorns. Ridley, who has missed more free throws than he's made during his Texas career, went 6 of 7 from the free-throw line after going 7 of 10 from the line in his last game against Michigan State.

"I felt good, more confident at the line," Ridley said. "We just wanted to show the world that we're a really good team. We're playing as hard as we can. That helps us be the team that we are."

Rice's Sean Obi recorded his third double-double in the last four games with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Rice was held to 29.1 percent shooting from the floor - the worst mark by a Texas opponent this year - and 20.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

"Holmes and Ridley and Lammert, those three guys hurt us in the interior," Rice head coach Ben Braun said. "That gives them an edge on a lot of teams. It certainly was the difference against us today."

The Longhorns held the Owls scoreless for a 6-minute stretch late in the second half before a jumper by Rice's Bahrom Firozgary capped the contest's scoring with 27 seconds remaining. Owls leading scorer Austin Ramljak was held to three points on 1-of-9 shooting.

"It certainly wasn't in our game plan to go 20 percent from 3 and our leading scorer to go 1 for 9," Braun said. "As good of an offense as they are, Texas also plays pretty good defense."

Texas had an eventful nonconference schedule, needing second-half comebacks in home games against Mercer, South Alabama, Stephen F. Austin and UT-Arlington before getting a game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds of its first road game against Temple. The Longhorns have faced two ranked opponents, both in the same week, beating North Carolina in Chapel Hill before falling to Michigan State at home.

"We've played some really good teams," Holmes said. "We've played some tough road games and we've played some tough home games. That's how it's going to be in conference play."

Four teams from the Big 12 are among the 16 highest-ranked teams in the country, not including the 11-1 Oklahoma squad Texas opens conference play against this Saturday.

"I'm not surprised about our league because there's so much experience from a coaching standpoint," Texas head coach Rick Barnes said. "Our league is better than probably projected at the beginning of the year. You never know how much players coming back are going to improve. You don't ever understand the impact of new players coming into a program."

As for the returners and newcomers the Longhorns have, Barnes likes the team he has and the fact they like playing with each other, consistently displaying an unselfishness and chemistry missing from last year's 16-18 team.

"Not one guy has a sense of entitlement here," Barnes said. "They want to win. That's the biggest thing. I think the guys coming back had a bad taste in their mouth so when they came back, they did a great job of talking to the young guys about that. The older guys have mentored the younger guys in a way they weren't mentored."


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