Texas Holds Off Kids From The Hall, 70-62

Texas saw its 16-point, first-half cushion dwindle down to a single point with little more than 12 minutes remaining at Seton Hall Saturday, but the Longhorns didn't flinch as they fended off the Pirates rally, 70-62, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Improving to 5-1 on the season, No. 15/18 Texas picked up a good road win against a veteran Big East club that will likely be Tournament bound in March. It was also a day when F Mike Williams saw his first action in a Burnt Orange uniform. The McDonald's All-American missed the first five games this season after the NCAA alleged the freshman's family received improper travel benefits from his Amateur Athletic Union coach while he was still in high school. UT officials benched Williams as a precautionary move last month but sought to expedite the process of resolving issues surrounding his amateur status when an ad-hoc, four-member University panel convened Thursday to assess Williams' eligibility. He was cleared to play Saturday morning.

The contest pitted two of D-I basketball's hottest teams from three-point range, as the Hall entered Saturday's ball game shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc. But Texas' matchup zone limited the Pirates to just 3-of-23 treys (13 percent) while the Horns shot 6-of-17 (35 percent) from outside the line. No three-pointer was bigger than senior G Kenny Taylor's trey late in the second half with Texas clinging to a 53-52 lead.

For the third straight game, freshman G Daniel Gibson was Texas' scoring leader, this time with 15 points and five assists. Senior C Jason Klotz, one of four Longhorns scoring in double figures, added 14 points including a key jumper to push the Longhorn lead to eight with little more than two minutes remaining. At the other end of the court, Texas held junior C Kelly Whitney (averaging 16.7 ppg) to just 2-of-7 FG. Senior F Andre Sweet picked up the slack with his 26-point (12-of-21 FG) and nine rebound performance in the losing effort as Seton Hall fell to 2-2 on the season.

It's a rare outing when Texas gets outrebounded (43-40) and loses the turnover ratio (14-11) and manages to win. The Horns helped their cause by making more free throws than the Hall even attempted. Shaky from the stripe this season, Texas was 20-of-27 (74 percent) from the free throw line while Seton Hall shot 9-of-14 (64 percent).

Texas was 22-of-56 (39 percent) from the field but saw its numbers drop off significantly in the second half (7-of-24 FG) as key frontcourt players quickly got into foul trouble. The Horns chalked up the W in no small part to its superior depth, pressure defense and clutch FT shooting down the stretch.

Freshman F LaMarcus Aldridge tied the contest at eight before converting on a traditional three-point play, scoring seven of Texas' first 11 points. Whitney's bank shot gave the Hall a 12-11 lead before F Brad Buckman answered with the first trey of the contest. The junior finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. With the score knotted at 14, Williams checked in for the first time this season and scored immediately on the in-bounds pass. Texas led 16-14 with just under 12:30 remaining. G Sydmill Harris' NBA-range three-pointer gave Texas a 22-18 advantage. The senior tallied 10 points on the afternoon.

Gibson's second trey capped an 8-0 Longhorn run, 27-18. Klotz connected on the pick-and-roll and then followed with a fade away jumper that gave Texas its first double-digit lead at 31-20. Sophomore F P.J. Tucker's offensive board and putback gave Texas its largest lead at 38-22. Senior F Andre Sweet answered with a bucket and the foul shot, while F John Allen's FG completed the first half scoring as Texas took a 38-27 lead into the lockerroom.

But Seton Hall opened the second half with a 12-2 run. A pair of Sweet FGs narrowed the Texas lead, 38-31, before Tucker answered with a slam on the feed from Gibson. But Aldridge picked up his fourth foul, while Tucker was whistled for his third personal, just two minutes into second half. G Donald Copeland's trey narrowed the UT lead, 40-34, as Klotz was quickly called for back-to-back personals. In a tightly officiated second half, the Horns were slapped with seven personals with 14:52 remaining. Bill Meyer's FG capped a 17-2 Pirate run going back the final minute of the opening frame.

Now, the Horns lead stood at just 40-39. But with 12:30 remaining, Klotz was fouled at the end of his offensive board and putback. His FT made it 45-41 to complete the three-point play. Guard J.R. Morris quickly answered with a trey while his bucket nearly three minutes later narrowed the Longhorn lead, 53-52. That's when Taylor put up his only shot of the day, a three-pointer that drew nothing but nylon as Texas began to separate itself from its scrappy host.

Arguably, the biggest play of the day was when Buckman chased down the loose ball after Aldridge misfired on the back end of a one-on-one. Buckman dished to Harris, who knocked down the three to give Texas a 60-52 cushion. Aldridge fouled-out trying to slow down Sweet on the Hall's next possession (sophomore F Tucker would be whistled for his fifth personal about four minutes later). Buckman came up with a critical block with Texas holding on to a 63-57 lead, but that defensive stop led to Klotz's jumper with less than two minutes remaining. Seton Hall started fouling, but Gibson and Harris drained their freebies to seal the deal for Texas.

The Horns return home to face North Texas, 7 p.m., Tuesday. Fox Sports Southwest will televise the game in the Lone Star State.

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