AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns have temporarily rescued their season with three straight wins against the bottom teams in the Big 12.
Their season will likely be defined over the next two weeks against the best in the league.
Freshman Myles Turner scored 25 points, leading Texas to a 56-41 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night. Turner was 10-of-13 shooting and also had 12 rebounds and three blocks while easily towering over the smaller Red Raiders.
Texas (17-8, 6-6 Big 12) had its healthiest lineup in weeks as Jonathan Holmes returned after missing 2 ½ games with a concussion. Holmes played 20 minutes and scored five points.
Back at .500 in the Big 12, the real work — and a push for the postseason — is about to start.
"We just have to string together wins," guard Javan Felix said. "We're just getting our full team back and we're starting to get a bit of a rhythm."
Robert Turner scored 10 to lead Texas Tech (12-14, 2-11), which has lost 19 consecutive games in Austin since 1996 and is now at the bottom of the Big 12 standings.
Texas had a series of missteps in the first half, most notably a missed dunk by Isaiah Taylor on a fast break, before closing the half with an 11-0 run for a 29-19 lead.
Cam Ridley started the run before Felix made a 3-pointer. Felix made another 3-pointer in transition and Holmes closed the half by banking one in at the buzzer.
The Longhorns looked ready to turn it into a rout when Taylor fed Turner for an alley-oop dunk to open the second half. But the Red Raiders responded with two quick 3-poitners to keep Texas from pulling away.
Texas Tech struggled with Texas' height and size under the basket. Myles Turner, who is listed as 6-foot-11 but claims to be 7-feet, scored three straight baskets with quick jumpers over the defense in paint. His three-point play with 10:41 left pushed Texas' lead back to 42-31.
Turner's 10 field goals matched the rest of the entire Texas team.
"I've played at that level before. I have to be more consistent with it," he said.
The Red Raiders had similar problems on offense. They struggled to penetrate Texas' zone, and even when they did, simply found themselves bumped up against Texas' shot blockers. Texas forced three shot-clock violations in the second half.
"We tried to get inside and when we did, I think our guys were a little bit intimidated," Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have struggled to score all season. Texas Tech hasn't hit the 60-point mark in nine of its last 10 and barely avoided being held into the 30s for the third time.
Texas: Jonathan Holmes' return for Texas looked like it could be short-lived when he took himself out because of an injured finger on his shooting hand. He had the index and middle fingers taped together and returned a few minutes later.
He called his banked in 3-pointer a bit lucky.
"I saw someone out of the corner of my eye and when I shot it, I said, 'This isn't a good shot,'" Holmes said.
Texas' defense forced the Red Raiders to settle for 3-pointers all too often, Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said. Of the Red Raiders' 48 shot attempts, 25 were from long range and they made just seven.
"That's a lot ... and we're not a very good 3-point shooting team," Smith said.
Myles Turner was one of the top recruits in the country but has been inconsistent all season. His 30 minutes Saturday night were the most for him since Jan. 3.
Texas coach Rick Barnes said he recently asked Turner what he's learned in his first college season. Turner noted that when he struggled in high school, he still stayed in the game.
"Those days are over," Barnes said he told him. "You've got to find something that works. And for him it's the catch-and-shoot jump shot."
Texas Tech hosts No. 16 Baylor on Tuesday.
Texas plays at Oklahoma on Tuesday.