Texas (16-5, 6-1 Big 12) got a 12-point win over Texas Tech (15-7, 4-3 Big 12), but the Longhorns didn't control the game until the final minutes. It was a back-and-forth battle, with neither team able to establish any sort of dominance, as no team could put together a big lead.
The first half scoring for the Longhorns came from a variety of locations, but, as always Durant was the leader with 13 at that point. What was most impressive about Durant's first half performance was what he was able to do under the basket. Texas head coach Rick Barnes' had been pushing Durant to not settle for just outside shots and to get inside and mix it up. Well the 6'9" freshman certainly did mix it up inside, doing on both ends of the floor. His 13 points led all scorers at the break, but even more impressive was his 11 rebounds in the first frame. Durant's 13th double-double of the season tied a UT freshman record.
Texas has sorely needed a dominant post presence and Durant, showing his versatility, provided that for the Horns against the Red Raiders.
To close out the first half, Durant threw down a put-back dunk, but video replay showed that the ball had not left his hands before the light came on and the shot was waved off. Texas Tech held a 42-38 advantage at the break.
A player who was surprisingly absent from the box score for a large portion of the game was A.J. Abrams. The sophomore guard, who had been averaging of 16 points per game, didn't score his first point until 2:39 remaining in the first half. Abrams finished with only 3 points on 1-of-3 shooting, deferring for most of the game to the long-armed swingman.
Ten seconds into the second half, Durant put in another lay-up and Texas quickly went from down by four to up by two. A jumper by Texas Tech's Martin Zeno evened it up at 46 and then the Red Raiders extended their lead out to 50-46 on consecutive lay-ups from Jarrius Jackson. Jackson led Tech in the scoring department with 27.
Texas retook the lead on consecutive shots from D.J. Augustin (a three and a two) and held a 51-50 advantage with 13:15 to go. Bucket for Texas, bucket for Tech, etc., etc. Neither team had clearly established any sort of control.
That is, of course, until another scoring flurry from Kevin Durant. Texas led 57-56 in the tight ballgame and Durant pulled up and hit a three from the top of the arch. It was one of his five three-pointers on the night.
The Red Raiders didn't score another point for another two-and-a-half minutes as Texas took a 65-56 lead. A pair of free throws, one from Jon Plefka and one from Charlie Burgess, was all Tech could manage, as Texas went on a 15-2 run. The Longhorns led 72-58 and the game was way, way out of reach for the Red Raiders, who managed only 22 points in the second half. Durant, on the other hand, had 24 of his own in the second frame.
Durant capped off the night with a steal, a toss to Augustin and an ally-oop dunk for his 37th point, tying his career high.
The Longhorns' next game is at home against the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday. Game time at the Erwin Center is set for 2:30 p.m.