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No. 9 Texas responds to a self-described 'soft' effort against Texas Tech by bullying UTRGV

Instead of letting a loss linger, Texas got back to its winning ways on short notice.

A quartet of Longhorns scored at least 10 points as No. 9 Texas rolled to a 93-58 victory over Texas-Rio Grande Valley on Sunday. The matinee at the Erwin Center was added to the schedule Friday after both Texas and UTRGV had weekend conference games postponed because of COVID-19 protocols.

With the win, Texas improved its record to 11-2. The Longhorns were only four days removed from a 74-61 loss at home to Texas Tech.

"We needed to play, we got to play," Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. "Those kids play really hard and so it was good to get out there. Again, we're still knocking off some rust."

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Texas forward Aaliyah Moore pushes past Texas-Rio Grande Valley forward Iva Belosevic and guard Sara Bershers during Sunday's victory at the Erwin Center. The game was scheduled Friday as a replacement.

Seeing the Longhorns bounce back from their woeful Wednesday shouldn't have surprised a sparse crowd Sunday. In two seasons with Schaefer, Texas has lost two straight games only once.

But this wasn't like last season, when Texas responded to a 81-75 loss to West Virginia with an 11-point win over an Oklahoma State team that eventually went two rounds deep in the NCAA Tournament. Nor was it similar to the time that Texas won its opener in the 2021 NCAA Tournament nine days after its ouster from the Big 12 Tournament.

On Sunday, Texas was playing an overmatched and undersized opponent that has now lost nine of its 14 games. Back in October, UTRGV were picked to finish 10th in the Western Athletic Conference's preseason poll.

After the Texas Tech setback, Schaefer said part of the team's strategy was to "get the ball inside." The Longhorns just failed to do so. Texas was outscored in the paint by a 24-16 margin, and the Lady Raiders grabbed 11 more rebounds.

Texas guard Rori Harmon shoots over UTRGV forward Taylor Muff during Sunday's Longhorns victory at the Erwin Center.

Four days later, the Longhorns seemingly went back to that game plan with better results. Texas grabbed an early 11-4 lead over the Vaqueros, and 10 of those were scored in the paint. The outlier point was a free throw by senior center Lauren Ebo.

By the end of the first quarter, Ebo had five points and two rebounds. Freshman forwards Aaliyah Moore and Latasha Lattimore both added a basket in the opening session, and 6-foot-2 sophomore DeYona Gaston also scored.

Texas ended the game with 40 points in the paint. UTRGV played one player who was taller than 6 feet. Ebo (13 points), Lattimore (10 points), Gaston (eight points) and Moore (15 rebounds) are all at least 6-1.

"I think every game we look to go inside. We have, like, five post players that can be a threat when we want to be a threat," Ebo said. "I think when it came to our previous game, we were just soft. We just were getting bullied down there.

"I think from this point on myself and the other post players, we've just got to be more of a threat and look to attack. We're getting looks, we just have to convert."

More:Finally at full strength, No. 9 Texas to look for consistency

Up 24-14 by the end of the first quarter, Texas maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the day. The Longhorns led 48-27 at halftime and 78-46 at the third quarter's buzzer. 

In addition to the offensive efforts of Ebo and Lattimore, Texas was paced by 18 points from guard Aliyah Matharu. Joanne Allen-Taylor added 13 points as Texas crossed the 90-point threshold for the second time this season. 

The 35-point victory, though, was not flawless. Texas committed 22 turnovers against a UTRGV defense that's No. 154 nationally in turnovers forced (17.23 per game). The Longhorns also missed 10 of the 23 free throws they attempted.

"Free throws continue to be an Achilles for us," said Schaefer, whose team is shooting 63.5% from the charity stripe.

Eleven different Longhorns scored against the Vaqueros and even walk-on Anissa Gutierrez got into the game in the final minutes. Texas freshman guard Kyndall Hunter, however, was notably absent. Hunter did not play because of what a team spokesperson described as a coach's decision. She was not at the Erwin Center.

The No. 24 recruit in the Class of 2021, Hunter has started once during a season in which she missed five games because of an ankle injury. Hunter knocked down seven 3-pointers in UT's season opener but is only averaging 11.6 minutes per game.

Schaefer declined to discuss the content of any conversation he had with Hunter about her deactivation for Sunday's game. When asked if Hunter is still a member of his basketball team, Schaefer replied that "as far I know, yeah."

Tip-ins: Texas will return to the Erwin Center on Wednesday night against Kansas. ... UTRGV was led by senior forward Taylor Muff's 17 points. ... In the four games she had played before this weekend, Moore had grabbed a total of 13 rebounds. Earlier this season, Moore was sidelined for eight games by an ankle injury. ... Schaefer said after the game that UT can no longer fill a void in its schedule with a non-conference contest.