March 1, 2007

Horns one win away from Big 12 title

Rick Barnes baby-faced Texas Longhorns are growing up right before our very eyes.

The No. 15 Longhorns had been in overtimes before Wednesday night's epic double-overtime thriller against in-state rival Texas A&M. In previous overtime losses to Tennessee and Oklahoma State, defense was optional and execution down the stretch was hit or miss. With everything on the line Wednesday night in Austin, the Longhorns (22-7, 12-3) weren't perfect in their attempts to close out a big win as they had wished, but they got the job done with clutch free throw shooting in the second overtime and some timely play from freshman forward Damion James in the first overtime period.

With the Longhorns seemingly holding a one possession lead with time running out in regulation and the first overtime, Texas A&M senior guard Acie Law delivered body blows that would have crushed the Longhorns spirit earlier in the season. On this night, the Texas players fought back and continued to make plays and put pressure on the Aggies.

All told, the Longhorns made 18 of 21 free throws in the last three minutes of regulation and in the overtime periods after making just 11 of 20 in the first 37-minutes of play. The clutch free throw shooting helped off-set the array of big shots Law hit as Texas always had the lead in the overtime periods.

Law led the sixth-ranked Aggies (24-5, 12-3) with 33 points, five assists and four rebounds on 10-23 shooting. He received help from Antanas Kavaliauskas and Josh Carter, who scored 18 and 17 points respectively.

Kevin Durant led the Longhorns with 30 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots. D.J. Augustin scored 25 points and dished out seven assists (only two turnovers), while James set a career-high with 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

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