Texas Flies Past Austin Peay in Round One

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- There was a hostile crowd in Little Rock awaiting Texas, but boos from the assembled Razorback faithful couldn't slow the Longhorns, who beat Austin Peay 74-54 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

(For more from Little Rock, see Members Only: Inside Texas Talks with Gary Johnson About a Possible Return)

Box Score

For Austin Peay, it was too much, too fast.

Dexter Pittman was too big, A.J. Abrams was too hot and Texas' early lead was too big. The Longhorns overwhelmed Austin Peay, jumping out to a 19-3 lead and cruising to the 74-54 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Little Rock, Ark.

Abrams led all scorers with a post-season career high 26 points, nailing 10-of-16 shots and going 6-of-10 from three-point range in the win. For most of the first half, Abrams actually had more points than all of the Governors combined.

"I just kind of got a good rhythm," said Abrams. "My teammates did a good job of setting screens and D.J. Augustin) was penetrating, kicking the ball out and giving me wide-open looks."

While there was too much A.J. Abrams for Austin Peay to contain, there was too much of Dexter Pittman for the Governors to handle. The 6-foot-10, 299-pound center powered his way through Austin Peay, which didn't have a single starter taller than 6-5. Pittman scored 11 points and pulled down 10 boards for his first career double-double in 16 minutes of play. But Pittman said that even though he had a significant height and weight advantage, it was still going to be a tough game because that meant he was going to face some speedy opponents while on defense.

"I knew I had to go out there and play defense on smaller guys," said Pittman. "It was a big challenge for me."

With Texas' win over Austin Peay, the Horns move on to face the Miami Hurricanes in the second round of the Tournament.

In the blowout victory for Texas, the Governors fell down early to the Horns, despite having almost the entire arena behind them.

Alltel Areana in Little Rock was filled with a large number of Arkansas Razorback fans, who let their dislike of Texas be known by booing the visiting Longhorns. Much of the inspiration behind the fans' presence at the opening round game had to do with Texas head coach Rick Barnes' comments from a conference call on Monday, in which he said Texas would pull out of next year's game against Arkansas in Fayetteville if his team wasn't treated well in Little Rock.

Barnes later clarified he was joking, but that didn't stop hundreds of Razorback fans from showing up to the game in team colors, performing the "Pig Sooie" cheer and booing any time Texas Fight was played or when a Longhorn player was announced.

After the game, Barnes made note of the hostile crowd, but said that even those without loyalty to one of the teams involved -- or to Arkansas -- were against the Horns because of the nature of being a high seed.

"When you're a higher seeded team, you can expect somewhat to know that the house is going to go against you. I think that's pretty much a history with this tournament," said Barnes. "All year long we've been in very tough arenas and environments and you would hope by this time that we would be able to handle those types of situations."

Some of the loudest boos came from Arkansas fans right before tip-off when Barnes was introduced, but the hostile elements of the crowd were silenced quickly when the Horns began the game with a 9-0 run.

Austin Peay's Todd Babington finally broke Texas' scoring streak with a three-pointer, but the Longhorns followed their 9-0 run with a 10-0 run take take a 19-3 lead. About a quarter of the game had gone by before Austin Peay made its second field goal when Caleb Brown hit a three with 10:03 to go in the first half, but Texas was still leading 22-8.

Texas maintained the steady lead throughout the contest and held the Governors to 28 percent from the field (17-of-59), their worst shooting mark of the season. Texas, conversely, shot 49 percent from the field (27-of-55).

Very little of that shooting was done by Augustin, who only scored six points. Texas' star point guard instead spent most of the game getting his teammates involved, dishing out eight assists in the win.

"I just try to control the game and get everybody involved," said Augustin. "My teammates did a great job of stepping up."

One of those teammates was sophomore forward Damion James, who registered his 16th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 boards. Sophomore guard Justin Mason also turned in an impressive stat line, scoring nine points, grabbing nine boards and handing out seven assists.

Of course, even in the dominating win, Barnes was able to find something for his team to work on.

"Definitely rebounding. There's no question," said Barnes. "We had a size advantage, but (Austin Peay) got 18 offensive rebounds."

Texas had 15 offensive rebounds in the game, but did out-rebound the Governors in the overall total, 32-40.

Absent from the party was Gary Johnson. The Texas freshman forward suffered a lower right leg strain in the Big 12 Tournament and Barnes said on Thursday that Johnson was a "game-time decision." The decision at game-time was for Johnson to sit and continue to rest so he could be ready later on, possibly for Texas' game against Miami in the second round.

In the locker room after the game, Johnson told Inside Texas that he wasn't ready to do everything out on the floor.

"Right now I'm trying to get rehab on it and hope it's 100 percent, but right now it's not and I'm not going to go out there if it's not 100 percent," said Johnson.

Thanks to their performances on Friday, a couple of Longhorns moved up in the Texas all-time record books. Abrams moved up to second in three-point shots in a single season with 105, passing Daniel Gibson (101, 2005-06). Abrams now holds the top two spots on that list, having set the record last season with 120. Damion James moved up to third all-time in career rebounds at Texas with 368, passing both LaSalle Thompson (365, 1981-82) and James Thomas (363, 2002-03).

Texas' second round match-up with Miami is set for Sunday at 1:15 p.m. The television broadcast will be on CBS.


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