Hoops: Second half surge lifts Horns past Ags

In the opening minutes of the second half in College Station Wednesday, Texas looked poised for a repeat of its dismal performance against A&M in Austin two weeks ago. After leading most of the first half, the Horns allowed the Aggies, on the strength of an 8-0 run in the final two minutes of the first half and the opening minute after the break, to streak to a seven-point lead at 32-25.

Unlike the game at the Erwin Center, though, UT quickly answered the A&M run, retaking the lead at 35-32 with a 10-zip burst and keeping the Ags at arm's length before pulling away over the final five minutes for a 66-52 win. Texas closed the game on a 19-7 run, not only running the offense proficiently but hitting free throws as well, an Achilles' Heel in three recent losses. The Horns also dominated the boards down the stretch, limiting A&M's second chance opportunities.

After hitting a scorching 59-percent from the field in Austin, the Aggies shooting in College Station matched the weather outside of Reed Arena: frigid. A&M finished the night 19 of 52 (36.5-percent) from the floor and made just eight of 26 field goal attempts in the second half as the Horns overtook and then pulled away from the hosts. Texas, following an equally frigid first half of its own (eight of 26, 30.8-percent), hit a lukewarm 12 of 28 (42.9-percent) from the field in the second half but an impressive 14 of 16 from the line.

Brandon Mouton scored 16 of his game-high 23 points after the break. James Thomas played just 21 minutes because of foul trouble and did not score till the games closing seconds (he finished with four points), but he managed seven rebounds in his limited court time. Mouton led the team with nine boards. Overall, the Horns outrebounded the Ags 42-32. T.J. Ford totaled 14 points and five assists.

Texas got just eight points from its bench players, three from Fredie Williams and five from Brian Boddicker, who continues to struggle knocking anything down. The slumping sophomore missed eight of his nine field goal attempts, including all three tries from beyond the arc. Aggie Bernard King, who lit up the Horns for 30 two weeks ago, suffered from a shooting chill as well, scoring a team-high 13 points, hitting four of 14 shots, none from three point land.

With the win, UT's eighth straight W in College Station, the Horns (15-7 overall) held steady in the conference race, tied now with Missouri at 6-3 for the league's No. 3 spot, behind 9-0 Kansas and 7-2 Oklahoma. The Tigers eked out a 76-73 home win over Big 12 cellar dweller Iowa State Wednesday night, while Texas Tech dropped into fifth in the conference with its 64-62 loss in Stillwater to Oklahoma State, which trails the Raiders by just a half a game in the league race. A&M fell to 9-14 overall and 3-6 in Big 12 play.

Texas hosts Colorado (13-7, 4-5) at the Erwin Center on Saturday. League-leading Kansas looms on the other side of Sunday. The nationally No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (20-2 overall) visit Austin for an ESPN Big Monday match-up two days after the Horns take on the Buffs.

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