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Lang and No. 6 Texas get another impressive win, 72-59 over No. 4 Tennessee

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas is turning heads and looking every bit like the powerhouse the program wants to be.

The latest attention-grabber: a dominant 72-59 win over No. 4 Tennessee that the sixth-ranked Longhorns controlled throughout behind forwards Kelsey Lang and Nneka Enemkpali.

Lang scored 18 points and Enemkpali scored 17 as the Longhorns (5-0), snapped a five-game losing streak in the rivalry.

And it was another big step in third-year coach Karen Aston's mission to return the Longhorns among the elite after a decade of struggling to make an impact nationally or in the Big 12. Texas started this season ranked in the Top 10 and backed it up with an impressive victory at then No. 6 Stanford.

"I think it's really big from a confidence standpoint. We have players who have never been in these situations because they are young, or older players who haven't had these kind of wins," Aston said.

Enemkpali, the Longhorns' only senior starter, had never beaten Tennessee. She called the win "amazing."

"I came to Texas in order to be part of a program that I knew would be able to get back to the top," Enemkpali said, while also warning her teammates that it's a long season leading to the NCAA tournament in March.

"We have to remain humble and remember this is just the beginning," she said.

Bashaara Graves scored 15 points for Tennessee (4-2), which has lost two in a row.

Sunday's matchup was the latest in a 36-year-old rivalry that began when Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Texas' Jody Conradt were building their schools into national powers. Summitt visited Austin when a statue of Conradt was dedicated in 2012. Conradt made the trip to Knoxville last year for the dedication of a statue in Summitt's honor.

The Lady Vols had dominated the series in recent years, winning eight of the previous nine meetings, but Texas controlled everything Sunday night, most notably near the basket.

The Longhorns had four players score in double figures and shot 62 percent in the second half. Together, Enemkpali, Lang and Brianna Taylor shot 20 of 26. The Longhorns also had more assists than turnovers.

Bashaara Graves scored 15 points for Tennessee (4-2), which has lost two in a row.

"They (Texas) have a lot more heart than they did last year," Graves said. "They came out real strong. I didn't see that last year."

Texas led 30-20 at halftime behind 12 points from Lang, who had no trouble establishing position under the Lady Vols basket. Tennessee center Nia Moore, the Lady Vols' leading scorer through the first four games, started but played just five minutes and had no points or rebounds.

"I just didn't think (Moore) was helping us at the time. The game was a little fast for her and we just tried to go with somebody else. Maybe looking back, we should have played her more. Obviously it couldn't hurt," Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said.

Texas kept up the pressure in the second half, never letting the Lady Vols make a game of it. Tennessee's Jasmine Jones briefly cut the Texas lead under 10 with the first basket of the second half but Texas quickly regained control when Celina Rodrigo buried a 3-pointer.

The Longhorns pushed the lead back to 15 when Enemkpali made consecutive baskets that made it 50-35 with 12:50 to play. Tennessee cut the Texas lead under 10 with just under four minutes to play, but a put-back by an unguarded Enemkpali turned momentum back to the Longhorns.


TIP-INS

Texas: Kelsey Lang was supposed to back up 6-foot-7 Imani McGee-Stafford until a preseason injury knocked McGee-Stafford out of the lineup. Lang responded by leading Texas in scoring average, shooting percentage and minutes over the first five games.

Tennessee: The Lady Vols came in forcing opponents into an average of 27 turnovers. They managed only 12 against Texas.

FREE THROWS: Tennessee could have made a game of it from the line. The Lady Vols were just 13 of 25 shooting free throws. Texas was 11 of 18.

UP NEXT

Texas: Hosts New Mexico on Wednesday night.

Tennessee: Hosts Saint Francis (Pa.) on Wednesday night

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Tennessee guard Jordan Reynolds (0) dribbles against Texas guard Nneka Enemkpali during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
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