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March 9, 2007

Texas rallies from 20 down to beat Baylor

Box Score

OKLAHOMA CITY -Kevin Durant rebounded from a dismal first half to score 29 points and grab 13 rebounds, and No. 15 Texas rallied from a 20-point deficit to beat Baylor 74-69 on Friday night in the Big 12 Conference quarterfinals.

Seldom-used Craig Winder scored eight points, including a basket with 1:56 left that put the Longhorns ahead for the first time since the opening minutes, and D.J. Augustin hit a basket and two free throws in the final 18.5 seconds.

Third-seeded Texas (23-8) advanced to play seventh-seeded Oklahoma State in the semifinals Saturday. The Longhorns and Cowboys split a pair of games earlier this season, including a triple-overtime classic won by Oklahoma State.

Texas extended its winning streak against Baylor (15-16) to 20 games, a run that dates to 1988, but not without a major scare from the Bears, who lost three times to Texas this season by a combined total of 11 points.

Baylor rode a sizzling first-half shooting performance to an 18-point halftime lead, a margin the Bears stretched to 20 with 17 minutes left.

Durant, who missed his first 12 shots and had just five first-half points, fueled the Longhorns' comeback, setting a school record for points in a half in a Big 12 game.

Durant just missed the Big 12 record for points in a half of 26.

Baylor has lost 27 straight games against ranked foes.

Texas led 2-0 but then watched Baylor sprint away as the Bears - who had shot 63 percent from the field in a first-round win over Missouri - built an 18-point lead in the first 12 minutes. Even as Baylor built its lead, Texas coach Rick Barnes didn't call a timeout, perhaps hoping that the Bears would cool off.

It didn't happen, at least in the first half. The Bears were shooting 67 percent from the field at one point before finishing the half at 53.3 percent. Baylor went 7-of-14 from 3-point range in the half.

Conversely, Durant, the Big 12 player of the year, struggled, missing his first 12 shots before scoring his first basket on a putback in the final minute of the half.

Baylor led 48-28 with 17 minutes left, but the Bears cooled off considerably, shooting 24.1 percent from the field after halftime and going only 1-for-7 on 3-point attempts. Meanwhile, Texas improved from 22.9 percent in the first half to 53.3 percent.

Winder, who hadn't scored in the Longhorns' last three games and entered the tournament averaging 1.6 points per game, had a steal and layup that tied the game at 65-65 with 3:09 left.

Mamadou Diene - who had career highs in points (14) and rebounds (12) - gave Baylor its final lead by making 1-of-2 free throws with 2:13 left. Winder answered with a putback at 1:56 to put the Longhorns ahead 67-66.

Texas' lead was 70-66 before Curtis Jerrells - who led Baylor with 19 points - hit three free throws to bring Baylor within one point with 45.9 seconds left.

Augustin's basket with 18.5 seconds left extended the Longhorns' lead to 72-69, and Baylor's Aaron Bruce missed a 3-pointer at the other end. Durant rebounded and Augustin hit two free throws with 8.4 seconds left.

A.J. Abrams added 16 points for Texas, while Damion James had eight points and 11 rebounds.

For more coverage of the Texas Lonhorns, check out OrangeBloods.com; for more on the Baylor Bears, check out SicEmSports.com.

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