AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—Texas was running and gunning, hitting 3-pointers, forcing turnovers and grabbing rebounds. It simply wasn’t going to be Wake Forest’s night.
The 18th-ranked Longhorns cranked up the nation’s top-scoring offense behind freshman P.J. Tucker to roll over the fourth-ranked Demon Deacons 94-81 on Tuesday night, handing them their first loss of the season.
“You gotta love this,” senior forward Brian Boddicker said after the Longhorns (10-2) extended their home winning streak to 24 games in front of a school-record crowd of 16,837 at the Frank Erwin Center.
Predictably, chants of “Over-rated” rained down on the Deacons (11-1) and about 100 people in the crowd ran on to the floor after the final buzzer.
Tucker had 21 points to lead five Texas players in double figures, while Brandon Mouton added 17 points and Boddicker had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
It was the most impressive win of the season for Texas, a Final Four team last season which had struggled in its other two games against Top Ten opponents—Duke and Arizona—and lost both.
“A lot of people doubted us. They said we didn’t beat anybody big,” Texas guard Royal Ivey said. “And now we just beat Wake Forest. This is a stepping stone for us.”
The Longhorns outrebounded the Deacons 42-28, shot 52 percent from the field and went 25-for-30 from the free throw line to help manage its lead throughout the game.
“That might be as good a total win as you could have,” coach Rick Barnes said. “Everybody did what they had to do.”
Tucker, a North Carolina native who was passed over by Wake Forest and the other basketball powers in his home state, went 9-of-15 from the field, doing most of his damage in the second half.
He scored 13 points over the final 11 minutes and put the exclamation point on the win when he slipped behind the defense on an inbounds pass for a dunk that made it 92-78 with 52 seconds left.
“It was satisfying, but it would be satisfying coming against anybody,” Tucker said.
Texas took control with a nearly flawless first half that built a 52-39 lead. The Longhorns shot 60 percent, including 8-of-13 on 3-pointers, and their aggressive defense forced nine turnovers.
Texas led 34-30 with 6:15 left in the half before hitting five straight shots, including two 3s by Kenny Taylor and another by Mouton to stretch the lead to 14 points.
“We had to play near perfectly in the second half to come back,” Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said.
Or at least wait for Texas to cool off, which the Longhorns eventually did, although only briefly.
The Longhorns’ blistering pace stumbled early in the second half as Texas missed its first eight 3-point attempts and Wake Forest closed the gap to 62-56 with 12:01 to play.
Justin Gray led Wake Forest with 27 points, going 8-of-18 on 3-pointers.
But the Deacons, who average 88.3 points, couldn’t find the run they needed to take the lead as center Eric Williams and forward Jamaal Levy both went to the bench with four fouls. Both would pick up their fifth almost immediately upon their return and neither was on the floor over the final 6 minutes.
“We got to the point we had no balance,” Prosser said. “We were shooting all jump shots. We had no inside game. You can’t jump shoot your way back into the game.”
The Deacons nearly pulled it off with a flurry of shots from the perimeter. Chris Paul’s 3-pointer with 1:39 to play cut the lead to 85-78 before Texas closed it out with a 9-3 run.
Wake Forest returns to the Atlantic Coast Conference at No. 2 Duke on Saturday.