Hours after dropping out of the Top 25 for the first time this season, the Texas Longhorns showed why they were ranked in the first place.
Kris Clack scored 13 of his 23 points during a 19-0 second-half run that carried the Longhorns to an 83-67 victory over No. 23 Texas Tech on Monday night.
“Texas plays in spurts and if you don’t stop them, it can get out of hand,” said Cory Carr, who led Tech with 20 points.
Texas (12-7, 6-3 Big 12) fell out of the poll following two straight road losses in which it shot 34 percent from the field. The Longhorns broke out of their shooting slump by hitting 50 percent against Tech, but it was Texas’ pressure defense that ignited the decisive second-half run.
“We just got down on defense and then got after the rebounds,” Clack said. “That opened up some shots, and we just didn’t back down.”
Reggie Freeman also scored 23 points for Texas.
“Freeman had a great first half and Clack had a great second half,” Tech coach James Dickey said. “We were ineffective because of their defense, and our shot selection was as poor as it’s been all year.”
Tech (13-6, 5-4), which has lost three straight for the first time since 1993, trailed by only one point with 10:31 left before Texas went on its game-breaking run.
Clack had a three-point play, two 3-point baskets, a layup and a dunk during the spurt, which gave Texas a 70-50 lead with 4:33 remaining.
“Clack was no surprise at all,” said Tech center Tony Battie, who was held to eight points on 3-for-15 shooting. “I was surprised that we didn’t rise to the occasion. They did a great job on defense and forced us out of our offense.”
In other Top 25 games, No. 9 New Mexico routed BYU 74-32 and No. 17 Xavier defeated La Salle 83-67.
No. 9 New Mexico 74, BYU 32
Charles Smith scored 23 points to become New Mexico’s career scoring leader, and the Lobos celebrated their highest ranking in 19 years with a rout of Brigham Young.
The 32 points were the fewest allowed by a New Mexico team in the 31-year history of The Pit.
New Mexico (17-3, 6-2 Western Athletic Conference) missed its first seven shots, but took control with a 15-0 run midway through the first half against the hapless Cougars (1-17, 0-8).
Smith broke Luc Longley’s career scoring mark of 1,769 with a 3-pointer early in the second half. Smith now has 1,777 points.
The Lobos extended their home winning streak to 23, while BYU lost its 13th consecutive game.
No. 17 Xavier 83, La Salle 67
At Philadelphia, Lenny Brown scored 23 points and James Posey had 20 points and 17 rebounds as Xavier beat La Salle.
The Musketeers (16-3, 7-2 Atlantic 10) also got 14 points from Gary Lumpkin and 13 from Torraye Braggs.
La Salle’s high-scoring freshman, Donnie Carr, was held to 17 points. Carr entered the game as the nation’s third-leading scorer with a 25.8 average.
La Salle (7-11, 2-6), which has lost six straight, was tied with Xavier 36-36 at halftime. But the Musketeers, who have beaten La Salle 10 straight times, scored the first eight points of the second half to take control.