Mountaineer head coach Jim Phelan (who looks like popcorn icon Orville Redenbacher) is the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I basketball (824 victories) trailing only Dean Smith, Adolph Rupp and Clarence Gaines on the career list. His next win, though, would have to wait.
The visitors hung around in the first half thanks to 5-of-9 shooting from three point range, including quality bench points from a pair of freshmen forwards. Kiel Butler knotted the game at 10 with his three-pointer at the 14:32 mark, but Texas promptly regained the lead with a Harris' trey.
Freshman F Charles Cook's three pointer (44 percent from beyond the arch this season) tied the game again at 27-27. But Texas would complete the first half with a 7-0 run, beginning with freshman F Brad Buckman's free throw, followed by Brian Boddicker's hook-jumper. A fixture in the lineup since the Arizona game, Buckman also turned in his best effort of the young season with 11 points and 13 boards.
Junior G Royal Ivey's runner gave Texas its largest lead of the first half at 34-27, but Butler's second trey narrowed the margin, 34-30. It was the freshman's 10th point off the bench while averaging just five points on the season. Boddicker would answer with his second trey, giving Texas a 37-30 halftime lead.
Texas opened second half with an offensive flurry as Mouton's hanging jumper extended the Texas lead to 43-30 with just under 2:30 eclipsed in the half. Junior G Jamion Christian's three-pointer ended a 9-0 Texas run.
Texas pulled away despite the fact that junior G Brandon Mouton (last season's leading scorer) picked up his fourth personal at the 15:34 mark and rode the bench for most of the second half.
Texas was already in the bonus with 14:20 remaining after Butler fouled Ivey. Texas led 49-39 after the junior guard swished both free three attempts. Two minutes later, Sydmill Harris' three-pointer brought the genteel Sunday afternoon Erwin Center crowd to its feet, giving Texas a 54-39 advantage.
Sophomore C Jason Klotz struggled offensively (3 points, 0-of-5 from the field) but hit a pair of free throws to give Texas a 59-39 lead, capping a 14-0 run with 11:01 on the game clock. The visitors had gone nearly six minutes without a point as Texas outscored the Mountaineers, 22-9. Butler was completely shut down after intermission despite leading his team with 10 points at halftime. Mount St. Mary's shot almost as poorly as the Horns, hitting 19-of-53 from the field (35.8 percent)
Another Harris trey extended Texas lead, 64-41, with 9:23 left in the game. Junior C James Thomas' free throw at the 6:41 mark gave UT its largest lead of the afternoon, 72-43. Thomas, averaging a double-double entering league play, contributed 8 points and 16 monster boards. (There are times you can hear the Erwin Center gasp when this guy goes tall and clears the rebound.)
The Mount made the final a bit more respectable after junior Mouton (last year's leading scorer and this season's second leading scoring with a 12.9 average) fouled out with 11 points with just over six minutes remaining. Sophomore G T.J. Ford, the team leader in scoring (13.5 ppg) and assists (7.9) is still looking for a consistent jump shot. The All-American candidate was just 2-of-10 from the field.
Despite getting good looks underneath the bucket, the shots didn't fall easily for any of the Longhorns. Texas shot 37 percent for the game (27-of-73, including 8-of-20 three-pointers) as the Mount alternated between zone and man defense. But Boddicker, registering his best all-around performance of the season, connected on all three shots from beyond the arch and added six rebounds, two blocks and was part of a tenacious defensive effort that forced 24 turnovers.