No. 15 Texas Upsets No. 7 Tennessee 97-78
Saturday, November 24th 2007, 9:43 pm
By: News On 6
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - D.J. Augustin scored 23 points, A.J. Abrams had 21 and the 15th-ranked Longhorns shot 64 percent from the field in routing No. 7 Tennessee 97-78 in the championship game of the StubHub! Legends Classic on Saturday night.
Connor Atchley added a career-high 22 points and 11 rebounds, Justin Mason had 21 points and the Longhorns (5-0) continued its great start to the post-Durant era.
``I knew we were going to be a great team,'' Augustin said. ``We have to keep getting better as we go on. Kevin is off in the NBA and we wish him well, but we are moving on and becoming the team that we know we can be. â€œ
Texas was in another league in beating Tennessee (5-1) in the new Prudential Center. Preseason All America Chris Lofton was held to 18 points, 17 less than he had against Texas in an overtime win in December. The Vols also were limited to 39 percent shooting from the field.
``We're better organized,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes said. ``We're a year older. We're further along right now than we were in December, I can tell you that. I don't think we're anywhere we need to be, but we further along in understanding things that need to get done.''
This was supposed to be the biggest test for Barnes' young team, which starts three sophomores and two juniors. It turned out to be a mismatch. The Vols beat Texas 111-105 in overtime in December, rallying from a 17-point halftime deficit in a contest that Lofton scored a career-high 35 points.
The only similarity this time was that Tennessee, which got 13 points from JaJuan Smith and 11 from Tyler Smith, was again behind at the half. The difference was that Texas rode the dynamic guard play of Augustin and Abrams in the second half and poured it on.
``Last year was Kevin's team and this year it's D.J.'s team,'' Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said of Texas. ``Anytime you put a team in a great point guard's hand, I think it will serve you very well.''
Pearl said Augustin shoots well and finds shots for everyone. Abrams is the shooter, Atchley is the big guy inside and Damion James is an athletic player inside. He added the Longhorns will be even better when freshman forward Gary Johnson is ready to play.
Texas took control of the game with a 19-4 spurt that bridged the final minutes of the first half and the start of the second. Trailing 39-38, Augustin and Abrams combined on a 12-2 run to end the first half. Augustin hit four free throws and Abrams, who had made 17 3-pointers in his previous two games, nailed two more.
The second half was more of the same, with Texas hitting 18 of 28 shots. Augustin found Abrams for a backdoor layup for one of his eight assists and then added a jumper to start the half. After JaJuan Smith made a basket for Tennessee, Atchley hit two free throws and Abrams, who didn't score until late in the first half, scored on a fastbreak for a 57-43 lead.
Texas led by as many as 22 points in winning the inaugural Legends title. The victory over a ranked team was the 40th for Barnes at Texas. Tennessee was looking for its first tournament win since the Rainbow Classic in 2000. Pearl felt Texas was a hungrier team after losing to Tennessee the last two years.
``I just thought there were a lot of times where we lacked purpose, focus and didn't play with the passion you need to play at the way we like to play,'' Pearl said. ``Texas played very well. Augustin control the game and Abrams made the shots we missed.''
The first half was an offensive showcase with Texas shooting 63 percent in taking a 50-41 lead. The Longhorns hit 8 of their first 10 in jumping to a 25-18 advantage. A string of three straight 3-pointers, the first and last by Jordan Howell, gave the Volunteers a 29-28 lead.