"I have a sour taste in my mouth ending the season like this," said Durant. "I kind of regret not playing as hard as I could today and throughout the whole season. Like Coach (Rick) Barnes said, we did some good things this year, but it's tough to use like this."
Texas' season is done at 25-10. The Trojans got their team's first-ever 25-win season, now holding a record of 25-11, and will move on to East Rutherford, N.J. and the Sweet 16, where they will face No. 1 seed North Carolina.
It was a game of long runs for USC and bad breaks for Texas.
Early in the game, running into contact under the basket, D.J. Augustin was knocked down into Damion James, twisting the freshman forward's knee. James went down and held his leg in pain. He was helped off the floor and Connor Atchley entered the game for the Longhorns.
It was a scary moment for Texas. The Horns were already down and continued to fall further behind, trailing 17-7 five minutes into the game. But James returned after a brief sit on the bench and quickly indicated he was fine with a tough offensive board and the put-back, taking it to 17-9 USC.
The Trojan shooters went cold for a spell, letting Texas crawl back to 17-13 on consecutive jumpers from Abrams and Durant. Then USC picked up where it left off, going on a 15-4 run to take a 32-17 lead. Nick Young led the run for the Trojans, knocking down 7 points on a two, three and a pair of free throws.
A.J. Abrams was the only Longhorns whose shots were falling in the early going, picking up nine of Texas' first 15 points. Then Kevin Durant joined the party.
The Longhorns went on a 7-2 run, with all 7 points by Durant, narrowing the USC lead to 10, 34-24.
Texas closed out the first half, appropriately, on an Abrams three. Texas still trailed 34-27, but momentum was in the Longhorns' favor.
Now, Texas had to do something they struggled with throughout the year: Carry first half momentum. Texas fell behind in the second frame of many games after leading in the first. This time Texas had to come from behind.
Texas immediately attacked coming out of the break, taking the USC lead down to 4 on a free throw by Durant and a lay-up by Justin Mason off a laser pass from Augustin. But then USC took off on its biggest run of the game.
The Trojans ran away from Texas, going 17-3 over the next four minutes, only slowed by a three-pointer by Durant. The run was finally ended on a Craig Winder lay-up, but when the dust settled USC was up 53-35 with 13:50 remaining in the game.
It was like that for the rest of the game. Texas would make a push and USC would take it back out to 16 or 17 with a big shot. With 6:54 left, USC's Daniel Hackett hit a jumper to give the Trojans an 18-point lead. Durant took it back down to 16, but Trojan forward Taj Gibson got a lay-up, fighting under the basket and USC's lead was back out at 18. Texas could do little to stop the Trojans.
With 4:22 to go, D.J. Augustin's season ended when he fouled out on a charge. It was a foul-heavy game for the rest of the Longhorns as well. Four Texas players finished with four fouls and the Longhorns had 27 personal fouls as a team, compared to just 16 for USC.
Abrams was one of the few Longhorns who could get their shots to fall. The sophomore guard hit seven of his 14 shots and finished with 20 points in the game. Abrams 20 and Durant's 30 comprised 50 of Texas' 68 points.
"You're not going to get it done this time of year with just two guys doing it and I'm disappointed in that," said Barnes.
Statistically, USC out-rebounded Texas 38-31, but it's not a clear indication of how much the Trojans dominated the game under the basket, getting second chance points again and again.
Basketball season is officially over for the Texas Longhorns. Since Winder is the only senior on the freshman-laden team, Texas will return a team with much more experienced players next season. The big question now is whether or not Durant will be joining them or moving on the NBA.