By MURRAY EVANS, Associated Press Writer
March 10, 2007
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kevin Durant had 26 points and hit the decisive 3-pointer to help No. 15 Texas hold off Oklahoma State 69-64 on Saturday in a Big 12 semifinal, giving the Longhorns the rubber match in a season series that included a triple-overtime classic.
Playing in front of a partisan Oklahoma State crowd at the Ford Center, Texas (24-8) dealt the Cowboys their first loss in their seven games in the building. Texas will play No. 2 Kansas on Sunday for the tournament title. The Longhorns lost 90-86 at Kansas on March 3 in the teams' regular-season meeting.
Oklahoma State (22-12), ranked as high as ninth earlier this season, likely dropped out of NCAA tournament consideration with the loss, the Cowboys' first of the season in 12 games with all their scholarship players available.
The Cowboys beat Texas 105-103 on Jan. 16, as Mario Boggan and Durant staged a duel, each scoring 37 points and Boggan scoring the game-winner for Oklahoma State. In Austin, Texas, on Feb. 12 in the teams' second meeting, the Longhorns won in a rout, 83-54.
Saturday's game fell somewhere in between, but the finish was dramatic. Oklahoma State rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to tie the game at 61-61 on a basket by JamesOn Curry with 1:26 left.
Texas' D.J. Augustin missed at the other end, but the rebound was tipped out to Durant, who made a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 46.3 seconds left.
Oklahoma State point guard Byron Eaton threw the ball away on the Cowboys' subsequent possession, and A.J. Abrams and Damion James combined to go 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 26.1 seconds to seal the win for Texas.
Curry led Oklahoma State with 24 points and Boggan added 21, but the Cowboys proved unable to find a third offensive option, as no other player scored more than four points. One player who had provided an offensive spark at different points of the season, Terrel Harris, had only three points and fouled out with 7:47 left.
Durant struggled in the first half in the Longhorns' quarterfinal win over Baylor, missing his first 12 shots before recovering to finish with 29 points.
Durant made only one of his first four shots Saturday, but he soon settled in and scored the Longhorns' first 13 points, the last two on a one-handed dunk following a baseline drive.
Still, the Cowboys led most of the way until Texas closed the half on a 10-0 run than included a three-point play and a 3-pointer by Durant. Two free throws by Abrams with 0.4 seconds left gave Texas a 31-25 lead.
Only three Texas players scored in the half -- Durant had 19 points, Abrams had 10 and Augustin had two. The first Texas points not by one of those three players didn't come until 15:26 was left in the game.
Abrams finished with 20 points while Augustin added 15 points, six assists and three steals.
Oklahoma State scored the first seven points of the second half to take its final lead at 32-31 with 18:25 left. Texas answered by scoring the next seven points and led by 10 points on two occasions, the last at 51-41 with 11:39 left.
Curry scored 10 of his points in the final 5:15 to rally the Cowboys.
Updated on Saturday, Mar 10,