AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—For a coach whose team fumbled the ball away throughout a 21-point win, Rick Barnes sounded pretty happy.
All he wanted to talk about was the 19th-ranked Longhorns’ defense.
“Nothing about it was pretty,” Barnes said after Texas had 23 turnovers in a sloppy 76-55 win over Lamar. “(But) for two days, we’ve done nothing but defense. … I felt our biggest improvement had to be on the defensive end.”
The Longhorns (6-1) forced 21 turnovers and held the Cardinals to 26 percent shooting to run their non-conference home winning streak to 23.
Freshman point guard Cory Joseph had 16 points and nine rebounds and freshman forward Tristan Thompson had his second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Barnes got his 300th victory in 13 seasons at Texas. He was already the winningest coach in program history.
A 14-2 run by Texas to open the second half put the Longhorns ahead by 21 and opened up a game that saw 25 turnovers in the first half.
Texas missed 11 of its first 17 shots and trailed 11-5 early before Lamar started putting up wild shots and giving the ball away. The Cardinals (4-3) had 15 turnovers, almost half of them on traveling calls, in the first half.
Texas’ turnovers came on a variety of passes that either caught teammates by surprise or went straight to a Lamar defender. The Longhorns are still working on new wrinkles in Barnes’ offense and look to still be struggling to find their rhythm.
Texas shot 45 percent against a team that gave up height and size at nearly every position.
“I think we could have made a lot more shots,” said Longhorns forward Jordan Hamilton, who played all 40 minutes and scored 16 points. “We could have played harder on offense like we did on defense.”
Barnes singled out Hamilton for his work on defense.
“He got in the stance, he was working and helping away from the ball,” Barnes said.
Texas held Lamar scoreless for 6 minutes and took the lead on Hamilton’s first 3-pointer. After making nine 3-pointers in the second half of Saturday’s win over Rice, the Longhorns were 3 of 11 in the first half against Lamar. Joseph made two and the Longhorns led 34-25 at halftime.
Joseph’s third 3-pointer sparked the Texas run to start the second half. Two more turnovers by Lamar, a three-point play by Dogus Balbay and a long jumper by Gary Johnson, who finished with 10 points, put Texas ahead 48-27.
Another rash of turnovers helped Lamar chip away at the lead. The Cardinals got within 12 when Kendrick Harris’ fast-break layup made it 56-44.
Jai Lucas then cut in for a reverse layup off a sharp pass from Hamilton and made a free throw for the Longhorns to end the Lamar run. Hamilton’s 3-pointer with 4 minutes left put Texas ahead 69-49.
“They are very long, very athletic, physical and strong,” Lamar coach Steve Roccaforte said. “Texas is about what I expected.”
After three straight home wins, Texas plays USC on Sunday night in Los Angeles in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.