AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Longhorns keep rolling along. Next stop: right up the road at No. 1 Oklahoma.
Javan Felix scored 20 points and surging Texas beat Texas Tech 69-59 Saturday, the Longhorns' seventh win in eight games in a run that has them in the thick of the Big 12 title chase.
After a sluggish start to coach Shaka Smart's first season, Texas has a chance to make a national statement against the top-ranked Sooners on Monday night. Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team Texas hasn't played yet.
"We're confident as a team right now. This team is hungry," said Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor, who had 13 points and eight assists. "They're a good team. We're a good team too. It's going to be a dogfight."
Texas (16-7, 7-3) started 1-2 in Big 12 play, including a road loss at Texas Tech, but since then has pushed its way toward the top of the league standings as Smart's "havoc" style of up-tempo play and aggressive pressure defense takes hold.
And Taylor has found a rhythm to his passing that is shredding opposing defenses. He has two straight games of at least eight assists and is averaging nearly six per game in the Big 12.
Texas Tech got within 60-54 on a 3-pointer by Toddrick Gotcher with 4:26 to play. Texas answered with a 7-0 run — a dunk by Kerwin Roach Jr., a 3-pointer by Connor Lammert and another layup by Roach, all assisted by Taylor — that put Texas ahead 67-54.
"He's really passing the ball at a high level," Smart said. "He's always done that, but he's taken it up a notch," Smart said.
Keenan Evans scored 14 points for the Red Raiders (13-9, 3-7).
Felix scored 14 in the first half, eight in the first two minutes. But Texas Tech had little trouble handling the Longhorns full-court press early as the Red Raiders rallied from an early deficit and traded baskets with the Longhorns for most of the first half.
Texas Tech stayed with Texas early by limiting turnovers and forcing the Longhorns into some sloppy ball handling.
A 3-point play by Felix and a fast break layup by Taylor put Texas ahead 24-23. Tevin Mack made two 3-pointers, including one with 3 seconds left, to give Texas a 36-30 lead at halftime.
Texas looked ready to break the game open early in the second when the lead grew to eight before the Red Raiders rallied again with an 11-5 run that kept them hanging around. But while the Red Raiders could stay close, they couldn't find the push to take the lead. A 7-0 Texas run, punctuated by a steal and dunk by Demarcus Holland made it 50-41.
Texas has won 20 in a row over Texas Tech in Austin, a streak dating to the 1995-96 season.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are one of the few teams that have managed to force more turnovers than they give up against the Longhorns, one of the best in the country at protecting the ball. The Red Raiders scored 16 points off 15 Texas turnovers.
Texas: The Longhorns got the win with almost no scoring help from its frontcourt. Center Prince Ibeh battled foul trouble the entire game and didn't even take a shot in 13 minutes on the court. Lammert and Shaq Cleare combined for 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Good interior defense shut down Ibeh, Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said.
"You have to pick your poison," Smith said. "With Felix and Isaiah, they really stepped up and made shots when they had to."
Texas has protected its home court well with a 5-0 record in the Big 12 but will need another big win or two on the road if it hopes to win the conference. Texas has beaten Baylor and West Virginia on the road.
Texas players didn't want to overcook the coming matchup with Oklahoma but weren't ready to dismiss it as just another game either.
"It will be a really big statement for us," Felix said. "They're the No. 1 team in the country. That's not something you overlook."
Texas Tech plays at No. 13 Iowa State on Wednesday
Texas plays at No. 1 Oklahoma on Monday.