Growing Pains

No. 21 Gonzaga used a 24-4 run to break open a tight ballgame midway through the second period against No. 25 Texas, handing the Horns a 87-77 setback Saturday at the inaugural Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge in Phoenix.

Texas had narrowed a 15-point Gonzaga lead to a 55-51 ballgame with 14:04 remaining, but was guilty of two turnovers and a lane violation when the Bulldogs made their run. Chalk it up as a learning experience after the Horns (5-2) faced their first nationally-ranked opponent of the season. Texas coach Rick Barnes scheduled a murderers row non-conference slate to prepare his young team -- there are four freshmen in the starting lineup for the first time in school history -- for Big 12 Conference play.

Texas is still learning to penetrate a 2-3 zone rather than settling for Hail Marys from three-point range. The Horns were 10-of-28 from beyond the arc (35 percent) and 25-of-61 (40 percent) from the field. Texas must also improve its transitional defense, giving up 12 fast-break points.

G Derek Raivio led the Bulldog attack by draining seven treys and finishing with a team-best 27 points. Gonzaga connected on 31-of-63 FGs (49 percent). The taller Bulldogs outrebounded the Horns, 34-29.

Freshman F Kevin Durant scored a game-high and career-best 29 points (8-of-18 FG) but got little offensive help from teammates. Sophomore A.J. Abrams was 3-of-17 from the floor, including just 1-of-11 from three-point range, to finish with seven points. Freshman Justin Mason, in his third start after replacing C Connor Atchley, was the only other Longhorn in double figures, notching 17 points (7-of-11 FG).

A pair of Durant FTs spotted Texas an early 17-12 lead before G Jeremy Pargo's traditional three-point play gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the contest, 20-17, at the 12:46 mark. Damion James' slam on the feed from Abrams narrowed Gonzaga's advantage, 26-23. Abrams' floater in the lane made it one-point game while two more Durant foul shots reclaimed the Longhorn lead, 27-26, with 6:44 left. But Gonzaga rallied with a 17-4 run to take a 43-33 advantage into the locker room. The Horns struggled from the field after the Zags went zone, misfiring on 11-of-14 shots from three-point range during the first 20 minutes

Gonzaga quickly jumped to a 50-35 lead during the opening minutes of the second period. But the fouls quickly mounted for the Zags while a pair of D.J. Augustin FTs narrowed the deficit, 51-41. Durant followed his turnaround jumper with an NBA trey to cut further into the deficit, 54-49. Two Durant FTs made it a 55-51 ballgame at the14:04 mark. That was as good as it got for the Horns. Gonzaga launched a 24-4 run to put this one out of reach. Yet, the Horns drained some treys and showed some fight down the stretch, battling back from a 28-point deficit to pull with 10 at the final buzzer.

Texas faces No. 12 LSU at the Toyota Center in Houston on December 10.

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