Hoops: It's Aldridge Again In Tourney Win

The tallest player on the Texas roster came up just as big in the Guardians Classic tournament. C LaMarcus Aldridge grabbed tournament MVP honors after helping the No. 2 Longhorns win the tourney championship Tuesday night in a 68-59 victory over No. 17 Iowa in Kansas City.

Aldridge led his squad in scoring with 18 points despite fouling out with two minutes left, one night after shining in the clutch with a last-minute bucket and block to give the No. 2 Horns a 76-75 semifinals win over West Virginia. With 10 rebounds on the night, Aldridge recorded a double-double for the fourth time in four games this season. The big man also paced the Horns with three steals.

Texas (4-0) trailed by seven at the half and by as many as eight midway through the second half but dominated the final five minutes of the game.

"I told our guys that if we're going to be a good team, we've got to find a way to win when we're not playing well," Rick Barnes said post-game. "We did that tonight."

The Texas defense improved overnight, holding Iowa to a 35.5 percentage from the field, although Iowa G Adam Haluska score 23 points. Meanwhile, the Horns finished with a 44.2 field goal percentage. Texas lost the rebounding battle, 39-27, but after a 24-turnover performance in Monday's semis, the Horns turned it over just 10 times in the championship match.

Brad Buckman started things off, following up a G Daniel Gibson three point miss with a dunk. Gibson missed three attempts from behind the arc in the first four minutes of the contest and finished just 3-of-8 (37.5 percent) from three-point range, a step down from Monday night’s 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) night from the perimeter, but still racked up 16 points.

After a 9-0 run by the Hawkeyes, Kenton Paulino ended the Texas draught with a three of his own to bring the score to 9-5 in the first five minutes of play. After F Mike Williams tipped one in for two points, the Horns tied the game at 11 with an Aldridge field goal.

Texas took a brief lead in the next few minutes with the help of an Aldridge dunk and a F P.J. Tucker shot from the field, but the Hawkeyes answered back with a quick three to put them back on top 19-17 with under 10 minutes left in the half.

Iowa then began nailing everything, going on an 11-2 run before Gibson connected on a three pointer to end the streak. After Aldridge delivered another dunk, the Horns entered the break trailing 31-24.

Texas came out sharp to start the second half, with Paulino laying one in and Aldridge slamming another one home to keep the Hawkeyes within sight. When Iowa responded with four points, the Horns stared at a five-point deficit five minutes into the half.

The Hawkeyes built their biggest edge of the half with a 47-39 lead until Buckman and Gibson drained consecutive three pointers to put the Horns on top for the first time in the period, 52-51.

Buckman finished with 14 points despite dealing with foul trouble much of the night, while Tucker, the team’s scoring leader entering the night, totaled just eight points.

Iowa retook the lead at 55-54, but inside the five-minute mark, an old-fashioned three-point play by Buckman bookended by Aldridge buckets gave Texas a lead it would not relinquish. Later, two Gibson free throws gave Texas a seven-point edge with just over a minute left, forcing Iowa to begin an barrage of fouling. G A.J. Abrams and Tucker nailed both of their charity stripe shots and Buckman added another to secure the Texas win.

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