<
>

Mouton's 10 straight points leads way

DALLAS (AP) -- Brandon Mouton hit a 3-pointer that stretched
Texas' lead and ran back on defense with his arms up, flashing
three fingers on each hand.

Then he made another on the next possession and simply walked
back to midcourt, nodding his head. After scoring 10 straight
points, he felt pretty good about the Longhorns' chances of making
it to the finals of the Big 12 tournament.

Mouton's spurt gave No. 11 Texas the push it needed to beat No.
18 Kansas 64-60 in the tournament semifinal Saturday. It was the
second straight game he scored the key points, providing the kind
of spark T.J. Ford gave the Longhorns last March when it reached
the Final Four.

"Those two 3s were big shots," said Mouton, who scored 18
points. "I knew in my head Kansas would have to make plays to
bounce back and they did, but those baskets gave us enough of a
cushion to finish the game."

After a two-game slump, both losses, Mouton appears to have
regained the feel of his previous five games, when he averaged 22.8
points.

Texas (23-6) will need him at his best Sunday when it faces No.
7 Oklahoma State in the tournament final. The Cowboys, who beat
Texas Tech 82-77 in the other semifinal Saturday, held Mouton to a
total of 17 points while beating the Longhorns twice this season.

The Jayhawks (21-8) blew an early 11-point lead and were up
briefly at the start of the second half. They got within two twice
in the last 1:30, but couldn't get ahead.

"Our energy level wasn't where it needed to be by any
stretch," said first-year Kansas coach Bill Self. "I think we're
playing our best ball all year, but it was not evident for a large
part of that game."

Part of the problem was Texas' stifling defense on Wayne Simien,
holding him without a field goal the final 38:28 after he scored 31
points on 12-of-14 shooting in a second-round win over Missouri. He
was 2-of-8 and 5-of-6 from the line for nine points, and had 10
rebounds.

The Jayhawks also had 16 turnovers and shot just 16-of-28 from
the line, including 4-of-10 in the final 10 minutes.

"We made too many mental mistakes and a solid team will
capitalize on those mistakes," said Keith Langford, who had 14
points and eight rebounds, matching Jeff Graves for team highs in
each category. "They did a good job of waiting for us to mess
up."

After overcoming a 12-point deficit in the final seven minutes
Friday night to beat Oklahoma, the Longhorns found themselves down
13-2 seven minutes into this game.

They went ahead for the first time on a three-point play by
Mouton with 1:27 left in the first half.

It was tied at 45 with 9:40 left when Jason Klotz put Texas
ahead with a bank shot. Then Mouton took over, scooping in a layup,
hitting another one, then making the consecutive 3s just 20 seconds
apart.

"Brandon was huge again in the second half," said Klotz, who
had 14 points and eight rebounds. "He hit the clutch shots in the
end to help us."

The Jayhawks made it 60-58, then Klotz answered with a layup off
a wraparound pass by Royal Ivey. Then Graves put in an air ball by
J.R. Giddens to make it 62-60 and the Jayhawks quickly fouled Ivey
in hopes he'd miss the front end of a one-and-one with 14.1 seconds
left.

Ivey, a 56-percent foul shooter, made both, clinching Texas'
second trip to the conference finals in the event's eight-year
history. Whoever wins, the Longhorns or Cowboys, will be a
first-time Big 12 tournament champion.

"They're going to play hard, we're going to play hard," Texas
coach Rick Barnes said. "These teams know each other really,
really well."

The Longhorns have beaten Kansas twice in a row after losing the
previous three. Texas set a school record with its seventh win over
a ranked team, and the 11-point comeback was one shy of the
season-best set the night before.

The Jayhawks had won four straight since an 82-67 loss to the
Longhorns three weeks ago. They haven't won this tournament since
capturing the first three, from 1997-99.

Self tried motivating his team by saying this game could
determine which Big 12 team plays its first two games in Kansas
City. Such placement would obviously be a bigger boost for Kansas
than Texas or Oklahoma State.

"We probably won't end up in Kansas City," Langford said.
"But you just have to be ready to go back out and play."