March 23, 2008

Longhorns advance to Sweet 16

The Texas Longhorns figured that getting through to the Sweet 16 wouldn't be easy, but they never figured their worst enemy would prove to be themselves.

After a brilliant first 35 minutes of basketball, the second-seeded Longhorns led seventh-seeded Miami 66-50 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and were cruising towards an easy win.

Actually, setting the tempo on cruise control is exactly what nearly got the Longhorns in serious hot water, as Miami went on a 22-9 run in the final 4:15 but came up just short in their bid for an upset, as the Longhorns advanced to the Houston Regional with a 75-72 win in Little Rock. The Longhorns will face third-seeded Stanford on Friday night.

After A.J. Abrams knocked down a pair of free throws with 9.5 seconds left and D.J. Augustin knocked down a free throw moments after shooting an air-ball with 1.8 seconds remaining and Texas holding a slim 74-72 lead.

Use whatever adjective you want to describe the victory, but the bottom line is what the Longhorns were choosing to focus on after the game.

"We won so I'm really not sweating it anymore," sophomore forward Damion James, who missed a pair of free throws in the final minute, said. "Just go back to practice and shoot free throws and hope to get better."

The M.V.P

After suffering a little bit of a slump down the home stretch of the regular season, Abrams has been red-hot in the post-season.

The junior from Round Rock McNeil punished the Hurricanes time and time again with a bevy of three-point shots that offset any budding momentum that Miami tried to build throughout the game.

Overall, Abrams scored 26 points and knocked down six three-point baskets on the day, giving him 12 in the first two rounds of the tournament.

A big day for James

While Abrams will steal the headlines on Monday morning, the Longhorns wouldn't be headed to the next round without the strong play of James, who scored 16 points and recorded 16 rebounds.

The Hurricanes get a lot of second-chance points, but Texas limited the Hurricanes to five offensive rebounds and James nearly outrebounded the entire Miami starting line-up (17 boards) by himself.

Through the first two rounds of the tournament James is averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds.

A look at the numbers

The Longhorns shot 25 of 57 (43.9%) from the field, hit 13 of 26 (50%) from three-point land and 12 of 21 (57.1%) from the free throw line.

The Hurricanes hit 22 of 55 (40%) shots from the field, hit nine of 22 three-point shots and hit 19 of 22 (86.4%) free throws.

Texas outrebounded Miami 39-27, but lost the turnover battle 13-9.

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