AUSTIN — After Texas fell behind at Tennessee last week in the first quarter and never recovered, coach Karen Aston said the Longhorns were "popped in the mouth" and lacked sufficient toughness for recovery.
Given another try, No. 8 Texas did fine.
Brooke McCarty returned from a hip injury to score a season-high 24 points, leading Texas over No. 12 Florida State 87-72 on Sunday.
Texas trailed by 11 in the first quarter.
"I thought we were ourselves today from a competitive spirit," Aston said. "That's who we are."
McCarty, a senior guard, hit 2 of 15 shots during the 82-75 defeat at Tennessee in which Texas trailed by 10 in the first quarter.
McCarty sat out against Northwestern State on Wednesday. She did not practice during the week between Tennessee and Florida State and returned to make 10 of 13 shots, including 3 of 4 3-pointers, and add six assists against the Seminoles.
McCarty said the rest helped.
"I felt better," McCarty said. "Nothing was hurting."
Ariel Atkins had 17 points, eight rebounds and four steals for Texas (9-1). Lashann Higgs had 15 points and four steals, and Jatarie White added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
AJ Alix led Florida State (10-1) with 21 points, including five 3-pointers, and had eight assists. Shakayla Thomas scored 19.
Florida State set a blistering tone from the start, making its first seven shots. When the Seminoles finally missed, they retrieved the rebound and Alix made a 3-point basket, her second of the game and FSU's fourth. They led by 11 after tacking on a free throw.
Texas finished the quarter with a 16-2 push, with Higgs and McCarty scoring six apiece. Florida State missed five of its last six shots in the period and committed five turnovers in the final 4:43.
Texas led 41-40 at halftime. The Longhorns finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run, expanding their lead to seven. Backup point guard Alecia Sutton made two astute plays on fast breaks, finding open McCarty for 3-point basket and then driving for a layup when McCarty was guarded.
Texas pulled away beginning midway through the fourth quarter, moving ahead by 11 on a layup by White with 2:27 left.
Two advantages Texas had were 12-3 in free throws made and 46-32 in rebounds.
"They outhustled us," Alix said.
Florida State: This was the Seminoles' first game of the season against a Top 25 team, and first time they were outrebounded. Before Sunday, Florida State ranked third nationally with a plus-15.8 margin. Texas turned 19 offensive rebounds, six by White, into 14 second-chance points. FSU managed to stay in the game until the fourth quarter by making 11 3-point baskets.
"We needed to be exposed," coach Sue Semrau said. "When you believe you are third in the nation, you can do that [outrebound] against some teams, but not against a team like Texas, which is going to crash the offensive boards. They have a size advantage."
Texas: Two days before the game, Aston was reluctant to allow McCarty, the Big 12 player of the year last season, to return after that one-game absence. "Is one game worth a few more days of rest?" Aston said. But McCarty wanted to play, and she was cleared by the team's medical personnel.
Help on the way
The Longhorns might have played their last game this season without Joyner Holmes, their top rebounder and third-leading scorer last season. Holmes, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, was suspended from school for the fall semester for an unspecified violation of university rules. She's allowed to return on Dec. 23. The Longhorns are scheduled to practice twice between her return and their next game, at Oklahoma on Dec. 28.
"I think we all know that it's going be a process for her to get back in the swing of things," Aston said. "She adds some much-needed depth in the paint for us. She'll add some versatility and some rebounding."
Nobody above Texas lost since the last poll, but it's possible voters were impressed by the Longhorns during this nationally televised game. Florida State is likely to drop at least a few spots.
Florida State is at Creighton on Thursday night.
Texas is off for 11 days before beginning Big 12 competition at Oklahoma on Dec. 28.
FEATURED IMAGE: Florida State's Nicki Ekhomu, right, lands atop Texas' Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Austin, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)