Hoops: Hot Horns blow by Bears

At halftime in the Erwin Center Saturday, an orange-clad fan sank a halfcourt shot to win roundtrip airfare to Europe.

That shot simply continued the success of the rest of the guys on the court in the Orange and White. Over the game's first 20 minutes, the Horns connected on 53.7-percent of their field goal attempts and hit a sizzling 10-of-14 from beyond the arc on their way to blowing away Baylor 102-78.

"It was a great half offensively," Rick Barnes said. "We created some of that with defense (but) we shot the ball well. It was one of those things that you wish you could bottle."

"Once you start hitting, sometimes its contagious," Baylor coach Dave Bliss said postgame of UT's three-point barrage. "We hit 10 threes, they hit 14. It felt like they hit 140."

It looked early like the Horns' Brandon Mouton might top the 140 mark all by himself.

The sophomore swingman scored UT's first 10 points, hitting all three of his attempts from the floor and sinking consecutive free throws as the Horns erased an early deficit and surged into the lead, a margin that would grow to 31 points late in the half. UT went to the lockerroom up 65-36. The Horns' point total represented the most points by any team in a half in a Big 12 game.

Both Mouton and Barnes attributed the Horns' first half offensive success to an aggressive offensive approach. Texas attacked the Baylor zones by driving the gaps, finding the open man with good interior passing and continuing to pound the offensive boards. The Horns totaled 14 assists plus 11 second chance points in the half and 23 and 22, respectively, for the game. UT also got 34 bench points in the first 20 minutes to BU's two.

The Bears trimmed the Texas lead to 19 points midway through the second half, but the visitors would get no closer.

Mouton finished with a team-high and also career-high 22 points, while Fredie Williams, who said post-game he's at about 95-percent while recovering from his early season knee injury, came off the bench for a career-high 17 points in just 16 minutes of court time. Forward Deginald Erskin also notched career highs with 13 points and eight boards. T.J. Ford, squaring off against fellow freshman and friend John Lucas, out-assisted Lucas 10-4 but fell a bit short in the scoring column. Lucas managed 17 points to Ford's two.

"I think they have really improved themselves offensively even though they lost terrific offensive players," Bliss said after seeing the Horns for the first time this season. "They can increase the pace of game, they can really shoot and it doesn't look like they've lost much on the defensive end."

"We never felt like any one person has to score for us," Barnes said of his team's ability to respond since Chris Owens' season-ending injury. "The balance is there."

Ten different Texas players scratched the score sheet, with Sydmill Harris (13) and Brian Boddicker (11) joining Mouton, Williams and Erskin in double figures.

Texas improved to 11-4 overall and 2-0 in Big 12 play while Baylor, short-handed vs. the Horns after losing starting forward Greg Davis with a shoulder injury earlier in the week, dropped to 11-5 overall and 1-2 in league play. A date with Bob Knight's Tech squad looms on Monday night in Lubbock.

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