Balanced effort leads Texas over RiceDec 1, 2008 - 2:06 AM AUSTIN, Texas (Ticker) -- Texas needed a balanced effort to get over the effects of its long travels.
Justin Mason scored 14 points to lead five players in double figures as seventh-ranked Texas posted a 77-56 victory over Rice on Sunday.
Damion James and Gary Johnson added 12 points apiece for the Longhorns (5-1), who used a late run in the first half to put away the game.
Early on, Texas appeared jet lagged after getting back from the Maui Invitational on Friday afternoon. It managed only 19 points through the final 11 minutes, and leading scorer A.J. Abrams had just just one point in the opening half.
"I felt like certain guys still hadn't found themselves," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "I look at A.J., and for the first time I could remember in a long time, he just looked beat. We were giving up a lot of middle drives early, and the fact is, we gave up. But people can't make a big deal about the trip."
"It was tough coming back but we can't use that as an excuse," Mason said. "A lot of teams were down there and they can't use that excuse either. I think we owe it to ourselves to come back and be able to play games."
With the Longhorns a bit off center, the Owls looked like the team to beat, taking a 16-14 lead with 10:53 left in the first half behind a 12-3 run. Freshman Lucas Kuipers scored eight points during spurt, including two of his four first-half 3-pointers.
"I really thought the first half we stepped out and competed really hard," Rice coach Ben Braun said. "It was nice to knock down some shots. I thought we did a fairly good job against the pressure."
"We didn't rotate when we were doubling the ball screen," Barnes said. "We knew they would pick and pop and we weren't getting the backside rotation. We gave them some threes and then we were giving them offensive rebounds. Our guys were getting locked in to their man."
Rice also had a 19-17 edge 47 seconds later after Kuipers hit another basket from the arc, but Texas responded with an 11-3 burst to take the lead for good. Reserve guard Dogus Balbay had a layup and a tip during the run - his only points of the contest.
Mason added a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the half, sending the Longhorns to the locker room with a 37-30 lead. Texas then added an 11-3 run to start the second half before cruising to the win.
The Longhorns were able to pull ahead quickly as the Owls struggled offensively, ending up shooting 26 percent (7-of-27) after intermission.
Abrams had four of his 10 points during the run. Connor Atchley added a 3-pointer and finished with 11 points.
Kuipers blamed Rice's poor performance in the second half on being complacent after such a strong start.
"In my mind, we came out in the first half and we were really hungry," the freshman said. "We really wanted this game and I think in the second half we got a little satisfied. We needed to come out even harder and I think in the future we'll do a better job doing that.
"In the second half you can't have a letdown in any area, offense, defense, anything. Everything is tied together and there isn't just one thing that narrows it down."
Kuipers ended up with 14 of his 19 points in the first half for the Owls (2-4), who finished 33 percent (19-of-57) from the floor and was topped in points in the paint, 38-20.
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