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Defense is key as No. 21 Texas looks to stifle Texas-Arlington

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No. 21 Texas has turned up its defense and will aim to continue to build momentum for the Big 12 Conference gauntlet when it hosts Texas-Arlington on Monday afternoon in Austin.

The Longhorns will wrap up their non-conference schedule looking to stay perfect at home, where Texas (10-2) has been formidable in winning all eight times.

The latest victory was a 72-37 home walloping of UNC Greensboro on Friday. The Longhorns received a season-high 23 points from Tyrese Hunter, 11 from Kadin Shedrick and 10 from Max Abmas to win their fourth straight contest.

It was the defense that made the difference for Texas against the Spartans, as the Longhorns allowed the visitors to shoot just 29.8 from the floor and 15.8 percent from 3-point range.

“We had incredible energy and activity and the best defensive effort of the year,” Texas coach Rodney Terry said after the win. “Tyrese and Dillon Mitchell were outstanding with their energy and effort early in the game. Dillon rebounded in his area, played big-time defense using his length. … Just proud of the way we played.”

Texas led by just five points with 4:17 to play in the first half but expanded that advantage to 32 points by midway through the second while surrendering just a layup and two free throws over that surge.

The Longhorns forced opponent team season lows in field goals made (14), field goals attempted (47), 3-point field goal percentage, free throws made (six), free-throw percentage (35.3) and total points (37).

Hunter said he would have been happy without scoring at all if he could make a difference on the defensive end.

“This just started for me on Dec. 26 and getting back here after the Christmas break,” he said. “I really missed the guys and wanted to get out there. I was watching film over the break and saw you know what I can do better. And I think all that starts on defense.”

The Mavericks (6-6) will head to Austin after a break that followed a 78-52 loss at North Texas on Dec. 23. Texas-Arlington got 20 points from Shemar Wilson (who made 6 of his 8 shots from the field) but only 15 from the other starters.

Texas-Arlington finished with a season-low 52 points, shot a season-worst 30 percent from the floor and finished with just three made 3-pointers.

“North Texas is a really good team, but we expected to compete a lot better than we did; to be honest, we’re embarrassed with how we played,” Texas-Arlington coach KT Turner said. “We didn’t play with any energy or fight, and that needs to change moving forward.”

Texas-Arlington, which has dropped two straight and six of its last 10 games, has played six teams that earned postseason berths last season.

–Field Level Media

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