Durant and Co. Dominate as Horns Roll TSU

In a game where four Texas players scored in double digits, the Longhorns beat the Texas Southern Tigers 90-50 at the Erwin Center on Tuesday night as the Horns prepare for a match-up in the desert with No. 22 Gonzaga.

From the opening tip Texas controlled the ballgame. Forward Kevin Durant set the tone early, scoring 10 of Texas' first 19 points. Durant scored inside, outside and every way imaginable against the Tigers. The freshman forward was 3-of-3 behind the three-point line in the first half and has proven himself more and more effective at each facet of the game.

Texas head coach Barnes pointed out on Monday that it's like Texas has "a 6-9 guard." In only 23 minutes of play, Durant scored 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. His 22 points gives him at least 20 in all six of the Longhorns' games this season.

"He's everything everybody said about him," said Texas Southern head coach Ronnie Courtney. "I'm sure he could have scored 40 if he wanted to."

Texas Southern used a relatively large line-up, putting in four forwards to start the game in attempt to beat Texas under the basket, but the Longhorns outmuscled the Tigers early and adjusted well to the pressure, especially on the defensive end.

"We put a couple of zone combinations out there," said Barnes. "Kevin (Durant) played for the first time tonight on top of the zone and he did a really good job. We had some lineups out there that we haven't used."

It was an impressive night for Dexter Pittman. For the first time, the freshman center was matched up against a player of his own size, facing 6'11", 320-pound Texas Southern center Matthew Bell.

It was like seeing double when the two behemoths lined up on the foul line. Pittman came in with six minutes left in the first half and back and forth the giants went. Bell hit a hook in the lane, then Pittman got the ball on the other end and put in a lay-up with a spin move. The next time down Pittman scored again, then forced a bad shot from Bell. After the battle under the basket, Pittman went back to the bench, having thoroughly answered the question of how he'd do against a player of his own size. Pittman finished with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds in 11 minutes played.

"When I get out there, my mind is I've got to beat my man down the floor on both offense and defense," said Pittman. "Coach tells me he's going to pull me out when I get tired, so he told me to go hard every play."

Pittman continues to go through individual workouts almost every day to get his weight down, including game day.

"I've never been on a bike so much," said Pittman. "The trainers call me Dex Armstrong."

After his final high school game, Pittman weighed 388 pounds. As of his last weigh-in, Pittman is at 295.

"I told the team last night, I'm not sure everybody really understands and appreciates what he's done," said Barnes. "I said if you're not sure, go through the weight room and pick up a 75-pound dumbbell. That's what he's done."

Barnes then added with a smile: "I also said pick up another 40. That's what he needs to lose now."

Texas took a 60-25 lead into halftime and had a solid handle on the game. Three Longhorns finished the first half in double-digits: Durant (15), A.J. Abrams (15) and D.J. Augustin (10).

Augustin had another solid game operating as the Longhorns point guard, effectively controlling the tempo while dishing passes to teammates.

"He takes a lot of pressure off of all of us with his ability to penetrate and pass the ball," said fellow guard A.J. Abrams.

Texas started the second half with an exclamation point in the form of back-to-back Damion James dunks, bringing the Erwin Center crowd to its feet. A quick three-pointer from Justin Mason after a steal from Augustin took the score to 67-25 Texas and the route was on in force.

This is likely the fastest team in the history of Texas Basketball. They're very raw, but this group of seven freshmen is a high-flying bunch that's improving every game.

Texas next travels to Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday Dec. 2 to take on No. 22 Gonzaga. The game will be at 2 p.m. on ESPN.

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