Hoops: Big Second Half Lifts Texas Past A&M, 69-59

The No. 16/18 Longhorns launched a 20-1 second-half run to dispose of upset-minded Texas A&amp;M, 69-59, Saturday at College Station. The win improved Texas' record to 14-3 and keeps the Horns in the thick of the Big 12 race at 5-1. The <I>pooor</I> Aggies are still looking for their first league win (0-6 in Big 12, 7-10 overall).

Texas coach Rick Barnes told his cold-shooting team at halftime to up the defensive pressure during the final 20 minutes. The Horns responded by expanding its zone coverage as the Farmers went without a FG for the final 12:42 of the contest. The game also signaled the continued emergence of junior C Jason Klotz, who finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Klotz privately told Austin reporters Thursday that he had become discouraged by his lack of playing time as of late and lived with the fact that several Big 12 coaches considered his scholarship "a big mistake." Make no mistake: Klotz was a force on the inside, clearing space, grabbing boards and hitting timely shots when the game was still tight.

In a physical contest, the Ags became one of the few teams in the past couple of years to win the battle of the boards (47 to 45) against Texas. But the Horns compensated by forcing 17 turnovers while giving away just six freebies of their own.

Texas was ice-cold before intermission (28 percent), in part because senior G Brandon Mouton picked up two quick fouls in the first three minutes and sat out the rest of the half. The Horns continue to miss far too many point-blank buckets in the paint, but they heated up to 48 percent in the second half against the out-manned Aggies. Texas finished 24-of-66 (36 percent) from the field.

A pair of senior G Leandro Garcia-Morales treys spotted A&M a 19-15 lead with 14:43 until halftime (the Aggies were 4-of-7 beyond the arc at this point but finished 6-of-21 from three-point range) before Texas switched from its half-court press to a 2-3 zone.

Senior C James Thomas putback brought Texas to within a point after G Sydmill Harris made the first, but missed the second. of two FTs. Senior G Royal Ivey's jumper (just 1-of-5 in first half) gave Texas a 20-19 lead. Thomas' turnaround jumper completed a 7-1 Longhorn run, but sophomore F Antoine Wright's trey tied it up at 29. Texas would go without a FG during the last 3:30 of the first half, while sophomore F Brad Buckman hit 3-of-4 FT to give Texas a slim 32-31 lead heading into the locker room.

Marcus Watkins' FG gave A&M its largest lead, 48-43, with 12:42 remaining in the contest -- but that's when Texas put a lid over the Aggie bucket. Mouton's FG, followed by senior F Brian Boddicker' s trey, launched the 20-1 Texas run to put this one out of reach. Ivey's pull-up jumper gave Texas its first double-digit lead, 59-48, with just under eight minutes remaining.

Senior F Jesse King's FT temporarily stopped the bleeding at the 7:13 mark but Boddicker quickly answered with a board and a bucket. Klotz followed with a FG to give Texas its largest lead, 63-49. Boddicker's slam dunk maintained the Horns lead, 67-53, with just under two minutes left. From there, the Aggies began sending Texas to the charity stripe but it was too little, too late for the home team.

The 10-point Texas win could almost be considered a blowout against the close-but-no-cigar Aggie team: the Farmers were within five points of opponents during the final minute of play in each of their five league losses. The Longhorns have now won 20-of-21 against their in-state rival, including 10-of-11 under Barnes.

After three of four road games, Texas returns to the Erwin Ceter for Wednesday's 7 p.m. (CST) matchup against Colorado (ESPN2) before the Feb. 8 high noon showdown against Oklahoma (CBS).

Horns Digest Top Stories