No. 8 'Horns stifle Ducks

LAHAINA, Hawaii — Third-place games might be the toughest of all for a college basketball team. Playing one the morning after a one-point loss to a fellow Top Ten team put Texas in a really difficult spot.

The sixth-ranked Longhorns bounced back from a loss to Notre Dame with a 70-57 victory over Oregon on Wednesday to take third place in the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

"You're always disappointed when you don't get to play in a championship game. Consolation games are really hard to play in, but I told the team last night this would be a character game and a chance to find out what we're about," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Our experience and maturity allowed us to overcome a sluggish start."

Damion James had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Longhorns (4-1), who lost 81-80 to No. 8 Notre Dame in the semifinals, a game that ended with A.J. Abrams' shot from beyond halfcourt bouncing off the front of the rim. The third-place finish matched their best in three appearances in the Maui Invitational.

"Our coaches did a great job of getting us ready for the game," James said. "This is what we do, this is our life. It's like a job. It was just another day for us."

Instead of having to play catch-up as they did in the loss to the Fighting Irish, Texas took command early this time with a 21-1 run during which Oregon (3-3) couldn't make a shot from the field and barely connected from the free throw line. The versatile James, who was 9-of-11 from the field, scored the last seven points of the run on two free throws, a shot from the lane and a 3-pointer.

"We're obviously pleased with what Damion James did," Barnes said. "That's what we're looking for from him."

The Ducks, who played six freshmen, missed all five shots from the field, went 1-of-8 from the line and turned it over five times during the run that gave the Longhorns a 23-8 lead with 7:09 left in the half.

Including the run, Oregon went 12 minutes between field goals in the first half, missing eight shots until Joevan Catron's 3-pointer brought the Ducks to 27-13 with 3:17 to go.

Texas led 31-20 at halftime as the Ducks shot 28.6 percent (6-of-21) from the field and were 6-of-16 at the line, including missing seven of their first eight.

"I'm proud of our guys for the way they came out and played, especially in the second half," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "When you don't shoot the ball well, and we didn't in the first half missing layups and free throws, and we were still there at halftime. This tournament was a great growing process for us."

Justin Mason added 18 points for the Longhorns and Gary Johnson had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Catron had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Ducks.

Oregon had a horrible first half in its 98-69 semifinal loss to No. 1 North Carolina, but it was able to stay closer in the second half of its second straight game against a Top Ten team. The Longhorns' biggest lead was 19 points.

"Like all young teams, they'll go through some spurts where you bog down on offense or defense and that happened to them," Barnes said about Oregon. "We dealt with that with a young team the last couple of years."

Tajuan Porter, Oregon's 5-foot-6 guard, had 11 points and six rebounds. He was 3-of-6 from 3-point range, leaving him 7-of-26 for the tournament.

"Games like this and North Carolina show how hard you have to play every night," said Porter, a junior. "They prepared us for the Pac-10 season. Our bodies are a little worn out but it was good for us and we just have to get better."

Texas finished third in the 2004 Maui Invitational and fifth in 1993.

This was Oregon's first appearance in the tournament.

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