Hoops: Horns Catch Fire, Blister Bears, 82-71

Guards <B>Brandon Mouton </b>and <B>T. J. Ford </b>scored 18 points apiece, while F <B>Brian Boddicker </b>added 17 off the bench, as No. 4 Texas blew past streaky Baylor to capture its Big 12 road opener, 82-71, in front of the third-largest crowd in Ferrell Center history (10,311). The Horns improved their record to 11-2, 2-0 in conference play.

The Bears live and die by the three-point shot, leading the league with their 43.1 percent shooting from beyond the arch. The home team lived well Wednesday in the first half, swishing a torrid 5-of-9 treys and twice held an 11-point lead before intermission.

For a while, it appeared third year coach Dave Bliss was going to add Texas to his list of upset victims in Waco that includes Kansas, Missouri and Iowa State. But T.J. Ford helped turn the tempo with just under six minutes remaining until halftime. His reverse layup cut the Baylor lead to five, 28-23. The sensational sophomore then chased down a loose ball out on the wing, dished it to Brian Boddicker who nailed a three-pointer with 5:09 remaining.

But with Baylor nursing a 32-26 lead and threatening another run at the 3:32 mark, Ford dazzled the Baptists with a soaring slam dunk from the right baseline of a Sydmill Harris miss. A Ford steal led to G Royal Ivey's layup with 2:02 left until intermission, as Texas trailed 34-30.

After G John Lucas registered his 12th point of the half, Boddicker responded with his second trey followed by Ford's jumper in traffic. With 57 seconds remaining, Texas had trimmed the Bruin lead to one, 36-35. The half ended with Baylor holding on to a 38-36 lead.

Texas had not led since F Brad Buckman's opening basket, but the Horns opened the second half with a 16-1 run. Brandon Mouton (7-of-13) broke a 45-all tie when he was fouled after going strong to hole on a reverse layup. His free throw completed the old-fashioned three-point play with 14:48 remaining.

The Horns' trademark tenacious defense held Baylor to just 9-of-25 (36 percent) from the field in the second half (4-of-13 treys) after the Bruins hit an unconscious 13-of-22 (59.1 percent) in the first 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, Texas matched Baylor's largest lead of the night with 11:10 remaining at 57-46, representing a 22-point swing for the Horns. But the Bears clawed back with a 10-0 run. Paced by consecutive threes from Kenny Taylor, R.T. Guinn and Terrance Thomas (his team's leading scorer with 17), Baylor drew within 57-56.

C James Thomas ended the Bruin run with a baseline jumper, and Texas never looked back. After being shut out against Iowa State, Thomas returned to form as Texas' Mr. Double-Double by registering 10 points and 11 boards (8 defensive).

With a solid inside-outside game, Texas connected on 17-of-25 (68 percent) from the field in the second half, shooting 54.2 percent for the game.

Boddicker has been a formidable sixth-man this season, having found his shot that eluded him for much of last season. The junior was 6-of-8 from the field (including 3-of-4 from beyond the arch) and is playing the best defense of his career.

Ford, meanwhile, is worth the price of admission. He is simply quicker than small town gossip, creating turnovers, chasing down loose balls and registering his trademark eight assists.

Fifth-year UT coach Rick Barnes is now 10-0 against Baylor (9-4, 0-2). It was Texas' sixth straight win since dropping its last road game 73-70 exactly one month ago at No. 2 Arizona. The Horns return home Saturday to face Texas A&M. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in a Fox Sports Southwest televised contest.

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