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Augustin, Texas topple Tennessee in Legends Classic

Nov 25, 2007 - 4:27 AM NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) -- D.J. Augustin showed Chris Lofton that he also is an early candidate for the John Wooden Award.

Augustin scored 14 of his 23 points in the first half Saturday as No. 16 Texas shot its way past seventh-ranked Tennessee with a 97-78 victory in the title game of the Legends Classic.

Connor Atchley scored 22 points and A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason chipped in 21 apiece for the Longhorns (5-0), who handed the Volunteers their first loss of the season, snapping a two-game losing streak in the series.

Somewhat overlooked due to the presence of consensus national player of the year Kevin Durant last season, Augustin had no problem getting the shots he wanted. The sophomore point guard shot 7-of-14 with four 3-pointers to show up Lofton, the reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.

In its first matchup with a ranked opponent, Texas did not miss Durant, who set a Big 12 Conference single-season records for points and rebounds in his only season.

"I knew we were going to be a great team, but we've got to keep being better," Augustin said. "Kevin is off in the NBA and we wish him well, we've got move on and be the team we can be."

Last season, the Longhorns got 26 points from Durant but absorbed a 111-105 overtime loss to the Vols. Lofton netted 35 points, knocking down seven 3-pointers.

However, Texas coach Rick Barnes knew his team needed to focus more on hitting the boards than slowing down Lofton to claim the win.

Behind a career-high 11 rebounds from the sophomore Atchley, the Longhorns finished with a 38-30 advantage on the glass.

"The biggest difference was rebounding," Barnes said. "We've been outrebounded a lot and given up too many.

"We went back today and watched last year's game on tape. Although we scored a lot last year we just shot the ball. We're better organized now. We're further along than we were last year."

The contest was tight early on, with Tennessee taking a 39-38 edge when Tyler Smith hit a layup with 4:45 remaining in the first half.

However, Augustin had four free throws and Abrams knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as Texas went on to score 12 straight points to open it up.

"I'm not sure at what point we lost it," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "There were some stretches in the first half I thought they were really going to get away from us."

Leading 50-41 at the half, the young Longhorns took advantage of some shaky shooting by the Vols to extend the advantage.

Inside the opening four minutes of the second half, Abrams scored eight points and Augustin added a jumper to make it 61-46. Smith missed three layups during that span for Tennessee.

"We missed a bunch of shots we normally make," Pearl said. "We got off to a pretty good start with good looks but they just wouldn't go down. We got the ball (inside), got some really good looks, but came up empty-handed."

Abrams finished with three 3-pointers and Atchley added a pair for Texas, which shot 63.6 percent (35-of-55) from the field, including 10-of-20 from the arc.

Lofton had 12 of his 18 points in the second half when the contest was out of reach for the Vols (5-1), who absorbed the double-digit loss despite knocking down 16-of-31 (51.6 percent) 3-pointers.

JaJuan Smith had 13 points and Tyler Smith added 11 for the Vols.