AUSTIN, Texas – Jordan Hamilton and Gary Johnson had 16 points apiece, and No. 3 Texas remained unbeaten in the Big 12 with a 76-60 win over Texas Tech on Saturday night.
The Red Raiders kept this one closer than Texas' 31-point romp the last time the teams met on Jan. 11, cutting the Longhorns' lead to seven in the second half. But J'Covan Brown made two 3-pointers in a 90-second span to help end the rally and give the Longhorns the push to put the game away.
Brown finished with 10 points for Texas (20-3, 8-0), which is off to its best ever start in the Big 12.
John Roberson scored 16 points for Texas Tech (11-13, 3-6).
All signs pointed to another Texas rout when the Longhorns shot a blistering 57 percent in the first half, picking and choosing open shots from every area of the court. Hamilton was 4 of 6 on 3-pointers in the half and Tristan Thompson made all four of his shots.
Cory Joseph set an early tone with a steal and dunk symbolic of the kind of fast and physical play the Longhorns have used to tear through the first half of the Big 12 season.
Joseph poked the ball away from Texas Tech's Mike Singletary and both players sprinted toward the basket. Joseph went up, drew a foul and still finished the dunk while Singletary fell on his backside. The three-point play made it 20-8 and came early in a 17-5 Texas run as the Longhorns built the lead as high as 21 in the first half.
But the Red Raiders steadily started chipping away. Texas had held its first seven Big 12 opponents to 19 percent shooting on 3-pointers, but Roberson made three in the half to get Texas Tech within 16. Jay Crockett's twisting layup capped a 7-0 run to start the second that pulled Texas Tech within nine while the Longhorns missed their first six shots.
The Texas offense that was so smooth in the first half started misfiring from everywhere. Thompson missed three in a row, Johnson's mid-range jumper rattled in and out and Texas Tech trimmed the lead to 53-47 on David Tairu's three-point play with 11:20 left. The team that had been beaten by 31 on its home court suddenly looked like a threat to end Texas' unblemished run in the Big 12.
Brown bailed out Texas before the Red Raiders could get any closer.
Quiet until then, Brown made two of his three 3-pointers in the game and Johnson made a baseline jumper that put the Longhorns back up by 14 and back in control.
The cushion was critical for Texas. The Longhorns struggled to string together consecutive baskets but managed to hold onto the double-digit lead and grind the game away.
Brown made another heady play when the ball was knocked from his hands, but he still managed to tip it to Hamilton before Matt Hill finished the play with a layup to put Texas up 67-52.