James, Texas pull away from Iowa StateJan 11, 2009 - 12:32 AM AUSTIN, Texas (Ticker) -- While its point guard's struggles continued, Texas turned to Damion James in order to start the Big 12 schedule in winning fashion.
The junior swingman scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half to lead the seventh-ranked Longhorns past Iowa State, 75-67, in the conference opener for both teams on Saturday.
Gary Johnson added 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Texas (12-3, 1-0 Big 12), which faces No. 6 Oklahoma in a conference showdown on Monday.
"A.J. (Abrams) struggled and I thought today was the first time he was pressing a little bit," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "We have some things that are sorting out. Gary Johnson is starting to be consistent. Damion (James) came in and played right where we wanted to play in terms of minutes."
The Longhorns never trailed in the second half but needed a 9-2 run in the final five minutes to give themselves some much need breathing room down the stretch.
"We really got stops when it was time to get stops," James said. "We needed those stops to win this ballgame and we got them."
Abrams followed his worst performance of the season with another poor day, scoring just eight points on 2-of-10 shooting. The senior had a season-low seven points on 3-of-16 from the field in a 67-61 loss to Arkansas on Tuesday and is shooting just 29 percent (19-of-66) over his last five games.
Texas was able to overcome his struggles against Iowa State (11-5, 0-1) thanks to James, who fell two points shy of his season high. James made 5-of-7 from the field in the second 20 minutes and grabbed six rebounds for the game.
"That should be his shot," Barnes said of James' mid-range game. "He's really good right there, he's really good at that. That's a great range for him, Gary is really good as well, but for Damion, he could take that shot all night long."
With a 62-57 lead and 5:14 remaining following a 3-pointer by Iowa State's Craig Brackins, Dexter Pittman converted a three-point play and Connor Atchley followed with a layup to open up a 10-point edge.
After a layup by Brackins, Justin Mason put the game away with consecutive baskets for a 12-point lead with 2:21 left on the clock.
"I'm proud of the way my team competed, especially being down 12 in the first half and having (Craig) Brackins on the bench with a couple fouls," Iowa State coach Greg McDermott said. "I was pleased with the way we battled back and kept ourselves in the game at halftime."
Brakins had a rough go of it in the first half, scoring just one point on 0-of-6 from the field. But the sophomore scored 19 after halftime on 8-of-16 shooting to keep the Cyclones close.
"It was tough," Brackins said of facing the Longhorns' front line. "They kept throwing different players at me, trying to disrupt what I was trying to do. But in the second half, I felt like I played a little better. It's something that I definitely have to work on."
Lucca Staiger had 15 points and Diante Garrett added 13 and eight rebounds for Iowa State.
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