Texas pulled away for an easy victory in its final game of 2010, but might have a more difficult time in its first two of the new year.
That stretch begins for the No. 12 Longhorns with a home game against former conference rival Arkansas on Tuesday night.
Texas (11-2) enters this matchup riding a season-high, five-game win streak and after topping Coppin State 95-75 on Friday. The Longhorns broke a 52-all tie in the second half with a 31-9 run and posted a 47-17 rebounding margin.
Tristan Thompson came up with a team-best nine of those boards while scoring a career-high 22 points, and Jordan Hamilton led the way again in scoring with 24.
“I thought we broke out today, and we wanted to end 2010 right,” guard J’Covan Brown said. “We’ve got to bring that to the next part of the season.”
The Longhorns might have just as tough of a stretch when they welcome the Razorbacks (10-2) and No. 8 Connecticut to the Erwin Center in their final two non-conference games. They open Big 12 play Jan. 11 at Texas Tech.
“In the next two games, we’ll have another two quality basketball teams,” Thompson said. “We know we have to come in and bring it and never take our foot off the gas.”
Texas will first try to record its 400th win at its current home by beating one of its former Southwest Conference rivals, who lead the series 86-66.
Arkansas enters this matchup on a three-game win streak and survived a poor shooting night from leading scorer Rotnei Clarke for an 87-74 home victory over Texas-Arlington on Friday night. Clarke, averaging 14.3 points, missed eight of nine shots while finishing with two points.
Senior guard Marcus Britt picked up the slack with a career-high 16 off the bench and was one of four players in double figures.
“(Against Texas,) we’ve got to come out with a better focus than in tonight’s game,” Britt said. “We’ve got to come out on edge, ready to play on the offensive and defensive ends. It should be a great game.”
Preseason All-SEC sophomore forward Marshawn Powell had nine points and five rebounds in his return from a one-game suspension for unspecified reasons. Powell averaged 14.9 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds as a freshman, but is averaging 7.6 and 3.8 per game this season while continuing to recover from a broken bone in his foot - sustained during a summer pickup game.
Clarke scored 24 points and Powell had 18 in last season’s home matchup with the then-No. 2 Longhorns, who pulled away in the second half for a 96-85 victory. Gary Johnson was one of four Texas players in double figures with 16 points.
The Longhorns claimed an 80-76 win Dec. 20, 2006, in the previous matchup in Austin, the first in a four-game series that concludes Tuesday. Before that set, the schools hadn’t met since the 1991 Southwest Conference tournament championship.
The Longhorns are seeking their 27th consecutive home victory over a non-conference opponent.