for this game

Pittman leads No. 2 Texas over Arkansas 96-85

Jan 6, 2010 - 3:30 AM By NOAH TRISTER AP Sports Writer

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.(AP) -- Dexter Pittman threw down a powerful dunk while drawing a foul, then flexed his big arms while heading to the free throw line.

It was a bold gesture in a game that was still close, but Pittman and No. 2 Texas were about to go on a run.

"I know my teammates depend on me to get plays like that," Pittman said. "Finish strong."

Pittman had 21 points and 10 rebounds, overwhelming Arkansas inside as the Longhorns remained unbeaten with a 96-85 victory Tuesday night.

The Longhorns (14-0) made nine of 11 shots during a 20-9 run in breaking from a 48-48 halftime tie.

Pittman's dunk started that run. The 6-foot-10, 290-pound senior finished 10 of 15 from the field, and neither Michael Washington nor 6-7 Marshawn Powell could handle him down low for the Razorbacks.

"It was like a little point guard trying to guard Shaq," Powell said. "It's impossible. He is a man."

Rotnei Clarke scored 24 points for Arkansas (7-8), which cut the margin to two in the final minutes but couldn't pull even.

Arkansas beat Texas 67-61 here last January, but the Razorbacks are only 9-23 since. The Longhorns were much more impressive offensively this time around, shooting 59 percent from the field.

Arkansas trailed 86-84 after Washington scored on an offensive rebound, but Damion James made an open shot from near the free throw line, and Jordan Hamilton's dunk with just under a minute remaining made it a six-point game.

"That's what I'm supposed to do," said James, a senior. "I wasn't going to let us lose."

James finished with 20 points and nine rebounds despite playing only 17 minutes because of foul trouble.

"I think he showed his maturity by staying engaged in the game," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Damion sat today longer than he's sat in a long time."

The Longhorns led 68-57 after J'Covan Brown's 3-pointer, but Arkansas was able to make a game of it. Courtney Fortson, who returned to the starting lineup after a season-long suspension, had 19 points for the Razorbacks, while Powell added 18 points and Washington had 14.

Fortson had seven assists but turned the ball over six times.

Just like last year against the Longhorns, Arkansas coach John Pelphrey showed up in a red jacket, and the Razorbacks jumped out to a 35-29 lead. Fortson got right to work, attempting 12 shots in the first half, but it was Clarke who gave the Razorbacks a shot at an upset, scoring 16 points before halftime.

After falling behind by 11, Arkansas went on a 13-4 run to pull within 72-70. Gary Johnson answered with a conventional three-point play after the Razorbacks nearly came up with a steal.

Texas pushed the lead back to double digits at 84-74 before Arkansas scored eight straight points. The teams traded baskets before James' shot and Hamilton's dunk gave the Longhorns some breathing room.

James scored eight points in the final 2:11.

After winning its first 12 games by double figures, Texas has struggled a bit lately. The Longhorns beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 76-70 over the weekend before being pushed by Arkansas.

Texas opens Big 12 play Saturday against Colorado.

Washington, who considered going to the NBA after last season, was in foul trouble and played only 6 minutes in the first half. He got untracked toward the end but was still outplayed inside by Pittman.

The Razorbacks appeared content to collapse their defense, allowing open shots Texas was able to convert. And the defense didn't stop Pittman from contributing. He helped the Longhorns to a 21-11 advantage in second-chance points and had eight of Texas' 16 offensive rebounds.

Johnson scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

Arkansas will have a lengthy layoff before starting Southeastern Conference play Jan. 14 at Mississippi State. The Razorbacks won only two SEC games last season.