Texas' silky-smooth point guard led all scorers with 26 points and almost single-handedly rallied his club after it saw its 10-point halftime lead evaporate into a three-point deficit. Texas coach Rick Barnes' late decision to move Justin Mason to the point freed D.J. Augustin from the perimeter and into the driving lanes.
In fact, Barnes went back to the starting lineup -- the Horns returned to a three-guard alignment with Mason replacing Gary Johnson in the starting rotation -- that knocked off a pair of Top 10 teams (UCLA, Tennessee) in December. The result: Texas won by a single bucket for the second time in two days. Mason's numbers weren't eye-popping (eight points, 3-for-3 from the field), but he pulled down six boards, played some tenacious D and had a crucial put-back just as OSU was threating to pull away midway through the second period. He also chased down an errant in-bounds pass on Texas' final possession to preserve the win.
Sophomore F Damion James is staking his claim as a first-team all-conference honoree, despite that fact that he plays in college hoops' toughest league this season. James finished with 12 points (5-of-10 FG), a game-best 12 rebounds and a critical blocked shot during the waning minutes. It was a tough night for shooting guard A.J. Abrams, who misfired on all seven attempts from three-point range and finished with six points (3-of-12 FG). Johnson, in just his fifth collegiate game but his first off the bench, logged only five minutes and scored one point.
Texas shot 41.1 percent (21-of-51) from the field, including 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) from three-point range. The Horns hit 15-of-20 foul shots (75 percent). Mixing man defense with a 2-3 zone, Texas held OSU to 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the floor. The Cowboys attempted eight shots from outside the arc, hitting eight (32 percent), and went 11-of-14 (78.6 percent) at the charity stripe. The Horns held a slight edge in rebounding, 35-34.
Texas has enjoyed considerable success in Stillwater during Barnes' tenure but had dropped two straight at Gallagher-Iba Arena, including last year's triple-overtime thriller. Following Monday's win, Texas raised its mark to 15-3, 2-1 in Big 12 Conference action. OSU fell to 10-8, 1-3 in league play.
Connor Atchley's second trey spotted Texas an early 12-6 lead before the Cowboys, controlling the offensive glass, went on a 14-2 run. James' knotted the affair at 20 when he followed his three-ball with a traditional three-point play. Officials stopped play with just under 5:30 remaining until halftime, and the scored tied at 27, to warn fans against throwing debris on the court. James responded with a slam before Augustin's triple launched a 12-0 Texas run. The Horns took a 41-31 lead into the locker room after limiting the Cowboys to just one FG during the final seven minutes of the opening frame.
Cowboy freshman C Ibrahia Thomas was whistled for his fourth personal just 1:43 into the second period. But OSU, with a smaller lineup and pressure defense, quickly grabbed a 45-43 lead with a 14-2 run. Augustin's deep trey tied the score at 48. Augustin spent most of the game 30 feet away from the bucket, but Barnes briefly put Mason at the point. It unshackled Augustin for three straight layups and 59-54 Longhorn lead with 2:31 left.
Abrams misfired on his seventh straight trey, but the Horns -- nursing a three-point lead -- forced a Cowboy turnover with 1:10 remaining. Augustin missed a seven-footer just before Marcus Dove made it a one-point game. Augustin calmly sank a pair of foul shots to make a 61-58 contest with 21.2 ticks on the game clock.
The Cowboys went for the three-ball on the set play to James Anderson, but the freshman drew iron on a wide-open shot from the left wing. Augustin put the game away with another pair of clutch free throws before the Cowboys hit a last-second trey to cap the scoring.
For the second straight year, weather conditions stranded the Horns in Stillwater until the following morning. (Barnes said diplomatically of Stillwater, "It's not Austin").
Texas returns to action when it hosts Texas Tech, 7:00 p.m. (CST), Saturday.