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November 12, 2007

Longhorn defense smothers UTSA in win

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas won its season opener but boy, did the Longhorns miss Kevin Durant.

Last season's freshman phenom and national player of the year is now in the NBA and his absence left a huge hole in the Texas offense as the 16th-ranked Longhorns scored their fewest points in a season-opening win in 25 years in a 58-37 victory over Texas-San Antonio on Monday night.

"I don't think tonight is a real good showing of what our offense can do," said guard A.J. Abrams, who set a Big 12 record with 120 3-pointers last season but was 3-of-10 from the field in the first game. "I think we have the offensive firepower that will eventually develop."

Defense won this one. The Longhorns (1-0) held the Roadrunners (1-1) to 18 points in the second half and 27 percent shooting for the game.

Point guard D.J. Augustin provided most of Texas' lightweight offensive punch, scoring 19 points to go with four assists. Justin Mason scored 12 points and Abrams finished with 11 after both players combined for 1-of-10 shooting in the first half.

"They got tentative," coach Rick Barnes said. "They can't do that."

The Longhorns returned all the starters but Durant from last season's NCAA tournament team and expected to start the season with a little more polish.

It was a struggle from the start. The Roadrunners outrebounded Texas 17-12 in the first half while the Longhorns misfired from inside and out. Abrams was 0-for-5 in the first half and the Longhorns held a a 22-19 lead on Augustin's short jumper at the buzzer.

"We missed four layups early in the game that could have changed things and we had some turnovers," Barnes said.

Texas-San Antonio coach Brooks Thompson said he tried to use Gardner-Webb's upset of then-No. 20 Kentucky last week to inspire his team to pull another stunner.

"We sure talked about it a lot. The first 20 minutes our guys played the way they had to. We were outrebounding the University of Texas," Thompson said.

The Longhorns kept misfiring in the second half. Abrams airballed a long shot and a small but vocal group of Roadrunners fans who made the 75-mile drive north started taunting the Longhorns in their home arena.

"Tonight our offense didn't do so well. We tried to pick it up on defense in the second half," Augustin said.

Augustin finally gave Texas a cushion with consecutive drives to the basket. Mason converted a three-point play and Augustin hit three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt to push the lead to 36-25 with just over 11 minutes to play.

Texas took it over with defense from there. The Longhorns held the Roadrunners scoreless over a 5-minute stretch and Abrams made his first 3-pointer with 7:50 left and drilled another in a 22-6 run that made it 50-30.

"The lead went from six to 18 really quick. We couldn't come back from it," said Roadrunners guard Devin Gibson, who had 11 of his 13 points in the first half.

Texas is still waiting for top recruit Gary Johnson to be cleared to play because of an unspecified heart condition. Johnson played in one of the Longhorns' exhibition games but has not been cleared by team doctors for the regular season.

For more coverage of Texas, visit OrangeBloods.com.

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