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Texas holds off Nebraska rally

Mar 5, 2008 - 6:15 AM AUSTIN, Texas (Ticker) -- Texas watched a big lead and a chance at a league championship almost slip away.

D.J. Augustin scored 22 points to lead the ninth-ranked Longhorns to a 70-66 victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 Conference on Tuesday night.

A.J. Abrams scored seven of his 15 points in the final 41 seconds to help Texas (25-5, 12-3 Big 12) move into a tie with Kansas for the conference lead with one game to play.

Texas opened a 17-point lead in the first minute of the second half but had to withstand a furious comeback to improve to 10-0 all-time here against the Cornhuskers.

Aleks Maric scored 17 points, including back-to-back baskets, to pull Nebraska (17-11, 6-9) into a 61-61 tie with 1:24 to play.

Abrams then delivered the biggest shot of the game, burying a 3-pointer for a 64-61 lead with 41 seconds left.

The team's second-leading scorer, Abrams added four straight free throws and Justin Mason hit two more from the stripe with nine seconds to play to help Texas avert the upset.

Prior to Mason's free throws, the Longhorns had to sweat out a bizarre final sequence.

Cornhuskers point guard Sek Henry, who had drilled a long 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 66-64, drove for a layup with 12 seconds to play to keep Nebraska within a basket at 68-66.

On the inbounds pass, Texas' Connor Atchley tried to throw a home run pass, only to see Maric briefly intercept it just past halfcourt.

But Mason alertly slapped the ball away from Maric and recovered it before he was fouled, leading to his clinching shots.

Trailing 43-26, the Cornhuskers hit four 3-pointers - two by Paul Velander - in a 24-7 run to forge a 50-50 tie midway through the second half.

Augustin and Mason hit 3-pointers to push the lead back to 58-52, and a 3-pointer by Atchley extended the margin to 61-54 with 4:42 left.

Nebraska refused to wilt and scored the next seven points to knot it at 61-61 and set up the dagger by Abrams.

The Cornhuskers twice led by seven points in the first half and went ahead, 20-18, when Ryan Anderson hit the second of two 3-pointers in a 22-second span with just over eight minutes left before intermission.

Augustin answered with a shot from that arc that triggered a 15-0 run which he also capped with a breakaway layup for a 33-20 edge with 3:05 to go.

Damion James, who finished with 16 points, scored five straight as the Longhorns built the lead to as many as 16 points before settling for a 38-25 advantage at the break.

Augustin and James had 14 points apiece in the half for Texas, which shot 54 percent (14-of-26) in the first 20 minutes.