P.J. Tucker learned his lesson—the hard way.
Texas’ top scorer hopes to make the most of a character-building performance his last time out when the 15th-ranked Longhorns host Nevada-Las Vegas on Sunday at the Frank Erwin Center.
Tucker, a sophomore forward averaging 13.1 points and a team-best 8.7 rebounds per game, started Wednesday’s game against Texas-San Antonio on the bench for the Longhorns (9-2) as punishment for returning late from Christmas vacation.
When called into action, he managed just two points in a lackluster first half, and Texas fell behind midway through the second half.
But Tucker finally got his game in gear over the final 20 minutes, scoring 19 of his 21 points to lead the Longhorns to a 100-82 victory—their second straight since a heartbreaking 89-88 loss to No. 5 Wake Forest on Dec. 18.
“I had to step up (in the second half) and be a leader to get everyone going,” said Tucker, who also grabbed 12 rebounds and picked up a pair of steals in the win.
“You can’t win a game like this in five or 10 minutes. You have to play the full 40 minutes. Our effort on defense picked up in the second half, but there is still room for a lot of improvement.”
The Longhorns, who have won six straight at home this season and 36 of their last 37 at the Erwin Center, picked up a school-record 13 blocked shots against the Roadrunners, continuing their dominant defensive play. Texas has limited its first 11 opponents to 67.2 points and a combined 38.4 percent shooting, including a 30.6 mark from 3-point range.
After UNLV (6-4), Texas will host Memphis before opening Big 12 play against Baylor on Jan. 9.
The Rebels have won a season-high three in a row, including Wednesday’s 74-54 rout of Texas-Pan American.
Romel Beck scored a game-high 15 points to lead UNLV, which used a 7-0 run to forge a halftime tie and did not trail after intermission.
Odartey Blankson leads three Rebels averaging double figures in scoring with 16.8 points per game.
The Longhorns won the only previous matchup with the Rebels, posting an 87-78 victory in the Las Vegas Showdown on Dec. 22, 2001.