Augustin, Texas wear down Saint Mary'sJan 6, 2008 - 2:49 AM AUSTIN, Texas (Ticker) -- D.J. Augustin made sure that Texas entered league play with some momentum.
Augustin scored a season-high 30 points as the 14th-ranked Longhorns wore down No. 24 Saint Mary's en route to an 81-62 victory on Saturday.
Damion James and freshman Gary Johnson added 15 points apiece for Texas (13-2), which posted its second straight win after dropping consecutive games to Michigan State and Wisconsin prior to the new year.
However, it was not easy. A sentiment that was echoed by Texas coach Rick Barnes afterwards.
"First of all, we beat a really good basketball team today," he said. "I told our team before the game that it is going to take a great effort to beat them."
Hosting their final non-conference contest before traveling to Missouri for a Big 12 Conference opener next Saturday, the Longhorns needed a run toward the end of the first half to have a lead.
"Going into this, we knew that we would have one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country," Barnes said about completing non-conference play. "To be 13-2 and come out of non-conference play, I am proud of them. Come January or early February, we'll know how good our team is."
Trailing 29-24 after Omar Samhan converted two free throws with 6:50 left, Texas was able to grab a four-point edge at the break behind an 18-7 run over the final 6:43. Augustin and James both had seven points during that span.
The Longhorns, who would never trail again, continued to open up the contest in the second half, pulling ahead 66-51 on the strength of a 16-4 burst.
"I don't think we wore down, I thought we were pretty fresh," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. "They outhustled us and outplayed us the second half."
A.J. Abrams, who did not play in Texas' previous win over TCU last Saturday due to a foot injury, had eight during that run. The junior guard finished with 13 points.
Abrams finished 6-of-15 from the field, but struggled from long range, going just 1-for-7.
"The three-ball wasn't falling so I had to go to something different," Abrams said. "If D.J. comes out of the game, someone else has to step up and score for the team, so that was my mindset when D.J. went out in the second half to get some rest."
James, who had posted a double-double in his previous three games, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. Connor Atchley also had four rejections as the Longhorns finished with a season high in blocks with 10.
"Defense, because defense creates a lot of opportunities for the offense," said Augustin about what Barnes stressed coming in. "We also talked about me being more aggressive and driving and creating more opportunities for my teammates. But overall, we focused on defense for tonight."
Playing in his second career game, Johnson went 7-of-10 from the field and grabbed six rebounds.
"It felt good to get into the flow of things again and not be so nervous," the 6-7 Johnson said. "Everything started to come back, so I felt good out there tonight. I put my first game behind me and I was more comfortable being on the floor tonight."
Despite the effort of James and Johnson, Texas lost the battle of the boards, getting outrebounded by a 41-34 margin.
"We had our hands on some of those rebounds and we couldn't get them," Barnes said. "I thought their guards did a good job of getting some of those loose rebounds. Because of both teams playing hard, some of the balls get batted around and the guards have to come down and get them."
Samhan ended up with 13 points and seven rebounds and Patrick Mills scored 12 for the Gaels (12-2), who had a five-game winning streak snapped.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
SAINT MARYS CA (24) 36 26 62
TEXAS (14) 42 39 81 FINAL
Jan 5 8:00 PM
- NCAA BB
(24) SAINT MARYS CA 36
(14) TEXAS 42 HALFTIME
Jan 5 6:52 PM
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