Texas (13-3, 3-0 Big 12) remained undefeated in conference play with the win over Oklahoma (9-6, 1-2 Big 12), in which Durant had 28 points and 13 rebounds, 11 of his boards came in the second half. As Durant's rebounding numbers went, so did the Longhorns'. Texas held an 11-10 advantage in that stat at the break, but outrebounded the Sooners 34-23 on the game. Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel said Durant may be the best player in all of college basketball.
"Look, I watch college basketball all the time," said Capel. "I haven't seen a guy better. He reminds me of Glen Robinson because he can score every way you can imagine. He makes it look effortless."
It was also a big game for A.J. Abrams. When the defense collapsed down to stop Durant or a driving D.J. Augustin, the ball would be kicked out to Abrams to bury the three. The sophomore guard had 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Abrams said that the balance of the Texas attack is one of their biggest assets.
"I think there's a good balance of going inside and outside," said Abrams. "If Kevin's feeling it down-low, we're going to get him the ball."
Abrams' teammate Justin Mason, who put in 14 points of his own, said he's amazed with the guard's ability to fire off the quick three.
"A.J.'s one of the best three-point shooters in the country," said Mason. "He just has a quick release and he gets the shoot off real quick."
The Longhorns opened the contest with a jumper at the top of the key from Damion James and never trailed the entire game. James' shot was followed by a three from Augustin and three from Durant. Texas started the game with an 8-0 run, converting all three of their first shots.
"Longar is a huge presence for this team. It hurt not having him," said Oklahoma forward Taylor Griffin.
With 17:45 left in the first half, the run ended on a lay-up by forward Nate Carter, but a steal from Durant in the open court leading to a lay-up from Mason put Texas ahead 10-2.
"When we can get some stops in the open court, we're pretty good because we've got some guys who can make some plays and make some shots," said Texas head coach Rick Barnes.
Five minutes into the first half, Durant showed off his aerial acrobatics, throwing down high-flying dunks on consecutive possessions, the second on a reverse pass by Augustin to take the Texas lead to 12-4. But Barnes says one of Durant's most impressive abilities is passing the ball and creating scoring opportunities for teammates.
"He's scoring points, but he's not looking for them. They're coming in the flow," said Banres.
The Texas run continuing, the Longhorns took a 21-10 advantage and were looking for more. Augustin stole the ball, raced down the court and tossed the ball to Durant who put it in for another dunk, this one with the foul. The converted free throw gave Texas a 24-10 lead and Durant his 12th point of the game. He finished with 28, but Durant said he didn't lobby for playing time at the end of the game to get his third consecutive game with 30 points.
"We played well today, that's all I'm worried about. Getting the win," said Durant.
Texas took a 43-33 lead into halftime and came out in the second half as fire up as they were to begin the game. Mason blocked a shot from Griffin, passed the ball down the court to Abrams who hit the three and the route was on again. Texas went on a 12-2 run to start the second half and took a 57-35 lead, which as the game progressed became an insurmountable one for the Sooners.
"When you're playing a team like Texas on their home floor, you can't dig yourself a hole like that, twice, and come back," said Capel.
Midway through the second half, with the Longhorns leading 74-50, 6-10, 290-poind center Dexter Pittman made his first appearance of the game and Texas switched to the slower tempo half-court offense to grind the game out for the 80-69 win.
Starting on Jan. 16th, the Longhorns leave on their longest road trip of the season. On Tuesday, Texas travels to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State, then to Villanova on Saturday Jan. 20th and then finally to Lincoln, Neb. on Wednesday Jan. 24th to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Longhorns' next home game is Saturday Jan. 27th against the Baylor Bears.