KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Texas coach Rick Barnes had noticed the way Cameron Ridley, all 6-foot-9 and 285 pounds of him, had been hustling up and down the floor at the Sprint Center.
It was time that the big fella's guards started to reward him.
"Cam works so hard, and what he does in transition is really important," Barnes said, "so I told the guys at some point we need to get him the ball."
Once they did, Ridley proved to be unstoppable. He finished with 19 points Tuesday night while leading the Longhorns to a 77-59 rout of DePaul in the consolation game of the CBE Classic.
Ridley, who also had 12 points, 10 boards and six blocks in a semifinal loss to BYU, had nine more rebounds against the Blue Demons. He also exorcised some free-throw fiends by making eight of 10 from the foul line, a mark that brought a smile to his coach's face.
"Tonight we said we have to get him more involved," Barnes said. "Our young guys are learning how to play with a big guy. Most of them never have."
Brandon Young, playing in his 100th game, scored 14 points and Cleveland Melvin had 15 to lead the Blue Demons (3-3), who never recovered from a first-half blitz. Billy Garrett added 11 points and Tommy Hamilton and nine points and seven boards.
"We didn't take care of the basketball and get good shots for a period in the first half and that cost us," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "We were in a scoring drought, and we at that point have to get the ball to the free-throw line, and take care of the ball and not turn it over."
Indeed, after running into a hot-shooting bunch of Cougars in the semifinals, the Longhorns got a cold-shooting group from DePaul in the third-place game at the Sprint Center.
It was a close affair for about 12 minutes before DePaul fell into a deep slump, missing eight consecutive shots. That allowed Texas go embark on a 15-0 charge covering nearly six minutes that resulted in a 35-18 advantage with a couple minutes left in the first half.
It turned out to be the margin most of the game.
Ridley scored six of his 11 first-half points during the surge, while Holland sliced through the lane for a pair of easy baskets. He finished 4 for 4 from the field in the first half.
The Longhorns, who had a 22-10 rebounding advantage by the break, continued to use their size in the paint to assert control. Ridley picked up where he left off with a dunk to start the second half, and Texas pushed its lead to 20 points at 54-34 with 12 minutes left.
"We need to establish the big guys at the beginning of the game," said Taylor, the Longhorns' freshman point guard. "We feel like we have some of the best big men in the country. Getting them involved early helps us get going, and that's how we got going today."
Meanwhile, DePaul struggled to hit from the perimeter -- the Blue Demons were just 5 of 17 -- and that was just about the only place on the floor where it could get an open look at the basket.
The Longhorns wound up outscoring DePaul 46-20 in the paint, and they had a 40-20 advantage in rebounding. They also had a big advantage in second-chance points.
"In practice, the coaches emphasized rebounding a lot," Ridley said. "We want to be one of the best rebounding teams in the country if possible."
The Blue Demons slapped on a full-court pressure down the stretch, trying in vain to get back in the game, but the Longhorns broke it with ease. The game, which lacked any resemblance of offense flow, lurched to its conclusion with Texas never in danger of losing its sizeable lead.
"I was happy about the fact that our guys battled in the second half, but it's one thing to battle," Purnell said. "The rebounding has to be there. We have to take care of that part."