Horns knock off Owls

HOUSTON, TX -- Damion James' goal is to get 20 rebounds in each game. He hasn't reached that mark yet, but he got closer than ever on Saturday night.

James was one of three Longhorns with 18 points and he added 17 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double, leading No. 4 Texas to an 80-54 win over Rice. A.J. Abrams and D.J. Augustin were the other players with 18 points.

"That's one of my strengths, I can rebound the ball," James said. "I've just got good instincts. I love rebounding man, so that's all I can say."

His season high before Saturday was 12 rebounds.

The win gives the Longhorns a 9-0 record for the first time since the 1981-82 season. They've still got a way to go to match the 1981-82 squad, which won the first 14 games of that season.

Their 26-point margin of victory marks the eighth time in the first nine games that they've won by at least 15 points.

The Longhorns outrebounded Rice 49-36 after leading in that category 25-21 at halftime. The improvement in the second half could have had something to do with coach Rick Barnes' speech at the break.

"I told them at halftime that my big thing was rebounding," he said. "We had our hands on four or five balls and we just didn't secure them. We've got to come down with them. In the second half he (James) made a great effort to do it."

He was so serious about the team improving its rebounding that he issued a warning he stood by.

"That's why some of those other guys didn't play," he said. "At halftime I said: 'If you don't rebound you're not playing."'

Texas led by 20 early in the second half before Rice went on a 12-2 run, cutting the lead to 56-46 on a basket by Suleiman Braimoh with about 11 minutes left. Rodney Foster had five points in that span, including a 3-pointer for Rice (2-6).

The Longhorns answered with eight straight points, punctuated with a two-handed dunk by James to stretch their lead back to 64-46 with about eight minutes left.

"We'd dug ourselves such a deep hole that we expended so much energy trying to come back," Rice's Patrick Britton said. "They had a run and we were already down by 10 points so add 15 points on to that and soon it's back to 20-25."

The Owls got within 66-51 after a free throw by Scott Saunders with about 4 1/2 minutes to go. Texas scored seven straight points after that, spurred by a 3-pointer from Justin Mason, to make it 73-51 and put the game out of reach.

The Owls were led by Foster, who had 13 points, and Britton added 11.

The Longhorns led by seven before scoring 13 straight points, capped by a reverse layup by Augustin midway through the first half to push the lead to 30-10. Texas led 47-29 at halftime.

"At the start of the game, we came out a little bit passive," Foster said. "Against a team as good as Texas is, when you come out passive it's going to be tough."

Rice played this home game at the Toyota Center in front of a Longhorn-heavy crowd. The arena was filled with burnt orange shirts with just a couple of areas of Rice fans. The Owls are playing all of their games this season off campus while Autry Court has a $25 million renovation. Along with the Toyota Center, they'll also play games at two other Houston venues.

It was a homecoming for a half dozen Texas players who attended high school in the Houston area. Those players were Connor Atchley, Augustin, Gary Johnson, Dexter Pittman, Harrison Smith and Rodney Terry.