The same Texas Tech basketball team that lost by 51 points to Texas last month reminded the Longhorns Wednesday night that this is still a rivalry.
In the 100th all-time meeting between the two schools, Texas needed a strong showing from backup point guard Sug Sutton and the bench during an 87-72 victory over Texas Tech at the Erwin Center.
Coach Karen Aston said Sutton “was the difference in the game” after the Longhorns sophomore registered 12 points, 4 assists and a steal.
Texas improved to 21-4, 12-2 in the Big 12. Texas Tech, which has lost seven straight, fell to 7-18, 1-13.
“I thought this game would be more competitive than the one in Lubbock, and that’s no disrespect to Texas Tech or our team,” Aston said. “Credit to Texas Tech. They came in here with a purpose. They played really hard and with confidence.”
As for sixth-ranked Texas, Joyner Holmes and Ariel Atkins both barely missed out on double-doubles. Holmes, starting for the first time this season, had 13 points and 9 rebounds while Atkins contributed 10 points and 9 boards.
While Texas savored its sixth straight victory, Texas Tech coach Shimmy Gray-Miller’s team gave the Longhorns some anxious moments. The frontcourt tandem of center Jada Terry and reserve forward Dayo Olabode combined for 36 points and Tech won the rebounding battle 35-33.
“The players came in here thinking they would win this game, and so did the coaches,” Gray-Miller said.
Texas might have been fortunate to be playing the league’s last-place team. Tech owned a 19-16 edge after one quarter and kept it close until the Longhorns pulled away in the final five minutes.
The Lady Raiders might have been inspired by their greatest player in program history, current assistant coach Sheryl Swoopes. Swoopes spoke passionately about the first time her team beat Texas in the Erwin Center in the early 1990s. Texas holds a 71-29 lead in the all-time series but Tech has won a fair share of games in the last 25 years.
Swoopes spoke about how she “hates Texas,” Gray-Miller said. “It was the best pre-game speech I’ve heard in my 19 years of coaching.”
The Lady Raiders responded by shooting 49.2 percent from the field, showing effort they did not have when the teams met Jan. 20 in Lubbock.
“We just didn’t defend like we can,” Aston said.
The game might be remembered for Holmes’ return to the starting lineup. Although she said she has not reached the form that made her an All-Big 12 pick last season, she showed glimpses of her old self. She replaced injured starter Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, who was not at the game because she was having treatment on her injured left wrist.
“I think I’ve made some progress, but I’m not where I want to be yet,” Holmes said. “I’m going to work hard in practice and try to get myself better.”
All 12 Longhorns who participated Wednesday played at least 10 minutes. Freshman guard Chasity Patterson scored 7 points while hitting 3 of 4 from the field and reserve forward Olamide Aborowa also chipped in 7 points.
Texas will seek to improve as it prepares for a tough three-day stretch. The Longhorns play at Oklahoma State Saturday afternoon and return to the Erwin Center to play No. 3 Baylor on Monday.