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Durant scores 29 as Texas holds off St. John's

Nov 18, 2006 - 2:33 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Kevin Durant was outstanding, but he got a much-needed boost from a fellow freshman.

Durant scored 29 points and D.J. Augustin added 17, including t he club's last four points, as No. 18 Texas this time won a close game - a 77-76 decision over St. John's in the consolation game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

After allowing Michigan State's Drew Neitzel to drive the lane uncontested for a last-second layup in Thursday's 63-61 loss in the first round, the Longhorns (3-1), who start three freshmen, survived a 3-point miss by Anthony Mason Jr. in the waning seconds.

"For a young group of guys to come here this week and have two games like we did, it's going to really help," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Last night is one of those tapes that you can take and sit down with them and learn so much from."

Durant scored 20 points in the first half to keep Texas within 45-44 and hit a 3-pointer with 4:27 left. That bucket was in the midst of a 13-4 run that gave the Longhorns a 77-73 lead with 40 seconds left.

Augustin, however, was the catalyst, hitting two free throws with 1:55 left and then capping the run with a fastbreak, reverse layup after his steal on an overplay on the left wing.

Augustin shot 5-of-7 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from the arc, and handed out seven assists.

"(Augustin's) a special player," Barnes said. "He does so much for a guy (so young), getting guys pretty good looks at it. He's going to get better.

"He's terrific. He's amazing the pressure (on him). He's very deceptive. If you ask any guy on our team, he's the hardest guy to guard. People will look at him and say he's not very quick, he's not very fast but they will tell you he's big and he's incredible."

Augustin also got fouled on the play but missed the free throw.

Eugene Lawrence converted a three-point play with 31 seconds left to bring St. John's (2-2) within 77-76, and after Justin Mason missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the Red Storm rebounded and called time with 16 seconds remaining to set up a last shot. But after a few passes on the perimeter, Anthony Mason was forced to take a deep 3-pointer from the right wing as time expired.

"We were only down one. We wanted Ricky (Torres) to flash high after the ball screen and then throw it to Monty (Lamont Hamilton)," St. John's coach Norm Roberts said. "Mason had a wide-open shot with his feet set. He has been shooting the basketball pretty good."

Durant finished 10-of-17 from the floor and added 10 rebounds and four assists. He was 5-of-6 from the arc.

"He hasn't played well yet," Barnes said. "Kevin, he's not where he needs to be defensively. But he's 200 miles from where he started three weeks ago. He has come a long way and he will continue to get better."

Avery Patterson scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half for St. John's, which rebounded nicely from a 92-60 loss to Maryland on Thursday, in which the Red Storm trailed, 58-21, at the half. Patterson hit three 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the game as the Red Storm jumped to an early 13-2 lead.

"When they jumped on us early, I felt like at that point in time calling timeout," Barnes said. "But then I thought you know what there comes a point in time where they're going to have to grow up. And I didn't want to call timeout and they thought I was in a panic situation."

Texas scored the first 12 points of the second half to take a 56-45 lead with 15:21 left before St. John's went on a 24-8 run to take a five-point lead with seven minutes to play. Torres hit a pair of shots from the arc and Patterson capped the run with a 3-pointer from the left corner.

The Longhorns responded with a 9-2, as Durant hit a 3-pointer from the left wing and James tossed in a short jumper in the lane for a 73-71 edge with 2:55 left.

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