- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Imani Boyette prefers playing defense, where she uses her 6-foot-7 frame to deter Texas’ opponents.

As for offense, the senior center is sometimes indifferent.

But on Wednesday night, Boyette saved her team on both ends of the court. Boyette scored 21 points - eight more than her average - as No. 6 Texas beat ninth-ranked Mississippi State 53-47.

Boyette also grabbed 10 rebounds.

“We needed her tonight,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “We couldn’t get any flow going with our guards.”

No other Longhorns scored more than nine points in a game they won despite shooting 39 percent and turning the ball over 23 times.

Boyette scored eight during the third period, when Texas (6-0) created some separation with a 9-2 run that built an 11-point lead.

“I get yelled at for not shooting,” Boyette said. “I’m trying to take more shots.”

Victoria Vivians led Mississippi State (5-1) with 12 points, but the Bulldogs’ leading scorer for the season missed 15 of 20 shots while guarded by either Empress Davenport or Tasia Foman.

Vivians, who came in averaging 18 a game, said the poor shooting was “all my fault.”

Her coach, Vic Schaefer, said Texas defended Vivians well.

“She’s taking responsibility; hats off to her,” Schaefer said. “I’m gonna disagree and give them a little credit. They were chasing her pretty hard.”

Mississippi State shot 31.5 percent and committed 19 turnovers.

Texas led 26-21 after an ugly first half that included 21 turnovers - 12 by the Longhorns. Texas threw a procession of careless passes but shot with considerably more accuracy, outshooting Mississippi State 41.7 percent to 32.1.

When the Longhorns managed to find teammates with their passes, instead of opponents or nobody at all, they scored fairly easily inside - 18 points in the paint.

Mississippi State missed all 10 of its 3-point attempts in the half.

Both teams cited extreme physical play for the substandard offense.

“We usually win the grinder games,” Schaefer said. “We’re a grinder team and take great pride in that. (But) they have some really tough kids. They guarded as well as anybody has guarded us in a long time. We probably set the game back 30 years on offense.”

RASH OF TURNOVERS

Texas, after taking care of the ball pretty well during its first 4 ½ games, committed 10 turnovers during the second half at Tennessee Sunday before committing 23 against Mississippi State.

Aston, while hoping to do better, said “We did beat two top-10 teams.”

TIP-INS

Mississippi State: Schaefer, a former head coach at Sam Houston State and assistant at Texas A&M;, is well connected in Texas. An Austin native, his roster includes four players from the state, including 6-7 Teaira McCowan, a high school all-American last season. … This was the first game for the Bulldogs against a nationally ranked team. They defeated Samford, Grambling, Mississippi Valley State, Norfolk State and Savannah State by an average of 56.4 points.

Texas: The Longhorns are 17-0 the last two seasons in regular season non-conference games. They were 11-0 last season, including three victories against top-10 teams. … The Longhorns will face three ranked teams during a stretch of four games. They defeated then-No. 4 Tennessee on Sunday in Knoxville before hosting Mississippi State. No. 16 Stanford comes to Austin on Dec. 13.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State hosts Tennessee State on Sunday.

Texas is at Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday.

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