Texas is starting to make a habit of coming from behind early on in the still-young 2013-2014 season. Once more, the Longhorns faced a second-half deficit that they were able to overcome thanks to scrappy play late.
Playing without leading scorer Jonathan Holmes, who lost his grandmother this week, Texas was able to get open shots against a UT Arlington team that entered the game as a poor squad defensively. But the Longhorns struggled to knock down those open looks, going 3-for-15 from three and trailing by as many as 12 points, including a nine-point disadvantage with inside of nine minutes remaining.
But Texas went on a 14-1 run over the next five minutes to take a 65-61 lead and appeared to be taking control of the game. Yet, with just about a minute remaining, the Mavericks led 69-68, thanks to a three-pointer by Shaq White-Miller with 2:08 left in the game. That was the score when, with 1:04 left, Demarcus Holland picked Reger Dowell's pocket and beat the Mavericks down court for a transition dunk and a 70-69 lead.
"It just shows how together we are and how we can fight through adversity with the youth in this team," Holland said of the comebacks.
On the Mavs' ensuing possession, Dowell missed a three-point look, and Holland collected the rebound. A missed jumper from Connor Lammert gave the Mavericks another chance down one, but Isaiah Taylor stepped in to intercept a pass from White-Miller and shoveled the ball to Lammert, who was fouled. Lammert made both shots, and the Mavericks weren't able to score again, pushing the Longhorns to a 6-1 record ahead of their Monday night showdown with Vanderbilt as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Holland was magnificent in Holmes's absence, scoring 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 2-for-4 from behind the arc. All the other Longhorns were 1-for-11. Holland also grabbed 11 rebounds, making it a career high for the sophomore guard in both points and boards.
"Demarcus Holland — what can I say," Barnes said. "He's just everything you want in a player. He's become the leader of the team; talking like you want a leader to talk. If you look at his numbers, other than the four turnovers, and that was him trying to make something happen which I have no problem with that, it's what he does defensively."
Cameron Ridley continued his strong play of late, scoring 10 points, grabbing 11 boards, blocking six shots and passing well out of the post. Prince Ibeh scored 11 points and blocked five shots, with Isaiah Taylor scoring 10 points, grabbing five rebounds, making five steals, dishing out two assists and committing zero turnovers.
Dowell led UT Arlington in scoring with 17 points, though it took him 20 shots to get there. Brandon Edwards chipped in 16 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and a steal. Jamel Outler scored 14 points off the bench, with Lonnie McClanahan scoring seven of his 13 points at the free throw line.
UT Arlington is now 2-6. Texas's tip against Vanderbilt is scheduled for 8 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.