Texas Holds Off Tech

DALLAS -- Texas coach Rick Barnes said early Friday morning that, in a perfect world, his Longhorns would win nine more basketball games this year. And though his team's 77-70 quarterfinals win over Texas Tech in the Big 12 Conference Tournament was less-than-perfect, the margin of victory was not less-than-expected.

At least not for Barnes, even though the Horns had defeated Texas Tech by an average of 27.5 points during the two regular season matchups.

"Texas Tech is one of the hardest teams you will ever have to defend man-to-man," Barnes said. "Coach (Bobby) Knight is the best coach. He's unbelievable what he gets out of his players. They are not an easy team to guard. (Junior G) Jarrius Jackson is a terrific player. He single-handedly can do some things."

The Big 12 regular season scoring champ (20.3 ppg) almost single-handedly shot Tech back into this one. The Red Raiders hit 8-of-16 treys in the second period to erase a double-digit Longhorn lead and grabbing a one-point advantage with just over 10 minutes to play. Jackson did most of the damaging, draining 5-of-6 three-pointers following intermission, and finishing with a game-high 28 points. But after Martin Zeno's two free throws knotted the affair at 54 with 8:29 remaining, the Horns would use a 10-0 run, holding Tech scoreless during a 2:40 span, to pull somewhat comfortably ahead with little more than five minutes remaining.

Conversely, Tech's game plan was to try to force Texas into a perimeter game. It worked, up to a point. The Horns were 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) from three-point range, but F LaMarcus Aldridge led the Horns with 20 points (8-of-13 FG), 16 rebounds (10 offensive) and two blocked shots.

"Lately coach has been telling me to be more aggressive and want the ball more," Aldridge said. "He tells me that he can't just tell the guys that. I have to do it with my body language. I was trying to be active today and keep moving, looking for the ball."

Texas now advances to Saturday's semifinals and will face Texas A&M at 2 p.m. at the American Airlines Center. The Aggies advanced after thrashing Colorado for their first Big 12 Tournament win in program history. Texas raised its record to 26-5 while Tech is done for the year with a 15-17 mark, Knight's first losing season since 1970-71 (Army).

In all probability, A&M earned its first NCAA at-large bid in nearly 20 years while Texas is no worse than a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance. But Saturday's rematch gives Texas a chance to redeem its sloppiest performance of the season when it lost in College Station on March 1.

"I think we're going to be very fired up for them," Abrams said. "I think we didn't do some stuff well the last game. I think we'll be more prepared."

Aldridge was one of five Horns to score in double figures. G Daniel Gibson notched 18 points (4-of-8 FG) and was credited with five assists. Senior G Kenton Paulino was good for 13 points (5-of-11 FG) while freshman G A.J. Abrams added 10 (3-of-12 FG, 1-of-7 from three-point range). P.J. Tucker contributed a double-double with 10 points (3-of-11 FG) and 13 boards. F Brad Buckman spent most of Friday's game as a spectator on the Longhorn bench. The senior picked up his fourth personal just 44 seconds into the second period. He had no points (0-of-2 FG) in just eight minutes.

Texas shot 42.9 percent (27-of-63) from the floor and was 16-of-22 (72.7 percent) from the charity stripe. Tech shot 43.1 percent (22-of-51 FG) from the field, including 44 percent (11-of-25) from outside the line. The Red Raiders connected on 15-of-19 FTs (78.9 percent).

Jackson's trey just before the shot clock expired gave Tech an early 12-8 lead before Paulino answered with a shot outside the arc. F Mike Williams followed with a turnaround jumper to make it 13-12, Texas. Tech F Tanner Ogden (brother of Longhorn administrative assistance and letterman Chris Ogden) was whistled for his third personal with Texas leading 20-16 and 8:13 remaining until intermission. Barnes went with a three-guard lineup and began to get separation from the Red Raiders.

Abrams drained a trey before Gibson's tip-in made it a 25-18 ballgame. Tucker was recognized prior to tipoff as the 2005-06 Big 12 Player of the Year but did not score his first bucket until the 4:38 mark of the opening frame (1-of-6 FG during the first 20 minutes of play). He followed with a pair of FTs to give Texas its first double-digit lead, 29-18, with 3:38 remaining. Connor Atchley knocked one down just inside the line to give the Horns their biggest lead of the game, 31-18, capping a 15-2 run. With 4.7 seconds remaining, Abrams drove into the lane, scoring the bucket and drawing the foul. His traditional three-point play gave Texas a 36-25 advantage at the break.

The Red Raiders unleashed a barrage of treys to open the second period (one apiece from Jackson, Darryl Dora, Alan Voskuil) to cut the Texas lead, 43-41. It was part of a torrid start for the final frame as both teams combined to drop nine-straight buckets in a span of 2:26 starting at the 16:50 mark. Dora fouled out with 13:59 remaining, forcing Tech to go with a smaller lineup. Jackson's second trey of the second period made it a one-point Longhorn lead, 49-48. Voskuil's foul shots would give Tech the lead, 50-49. with 10:11 remaining.

By now, all the Usual Suspects (Sooner fans, A&M fans, Kansas fans) in the stands at the American Airlines Center combined in full-throated support of the upstart Red Raiders. Gibson answered with a trey before Aldridge followed with an in-your-face slam, bringing the Burnt Orange contingent to its feet. Abrams drained a fade-away jumper just before Buckman checked back in with 6:01 remaining. Paulino's trey from the right wing capped a 10-0 Texas run, much to the chagrin of the Usual Suspects.

"I thought our guys did a good job of staying aggressive the last couple of minutes," Barnes said. "We probably didn't make as many good decisions as we needed to be making in that situation but, overall, when they made their run and got back in it, we stayed with it. We pushed it back out there and made some free throws at the end. I'm happy with the fact that we had only seven turnovers and the job we did on the boards."

The Horns outrebounded Tech, 44-30.

Aldridge's traditional three-point play rebuilt the double-digit lead, 67-56, with 4:12 left. But three more Jackson trey's made it a two-possession game at 72-68 with 22 seconds left. But the Horns would connect on five-of-six foul shots to seal the deal.

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