2 super subs let Texas taste Sweet 16 again

Texas 75 North Carolina State 54

Atlanta Regional

Ncaa Tournament


Dallas -- Rick Barnes can look down his bench for a chief reason his Texas Longhorns are back in the Sweet 16.

Backup guard A.J. Abrams came off Barnes' bench to score 16 points yesterday, including a four-point play and a trio of three-point shots, and reserve post player Mike Williams provided 22 minutes of shut-down defense as Texas swarmed North Carolina State, 75-54, at American Airlines Center.

"Coach told me I needed to stop passing up open shots, so I got more of them and just knocked them down," said Abrams, who could become a bigger factor for Texas now that guard Kenton Paulino reinjured an already sore left knee yesterday.

The Longhorns (29-6) take their speed, size and depth to Atlanta for a Thursday regional semifinal against West Virginia (22-10).

It marks their fourth Sweet 16 in the past five seasons under Rick Barnes. They reached the 2003 Final Four, losing a national semifinal to Syracuse.

No. 2 seed Texas locked down on N.C. State's spread offense and three-point shooters, forcing the Wolfpack into 39.3 percent shooting and only 13.6 percent - 3-for-22 - on shots beyond the arc.

Tenth-seeded N.C. State (22-10) ended its fifth NCAA tournament in a row by failing to make consecutive trips to the Sweet 16.

"The single most significant factor was that we just had a hard time making shots," N.C. State coach Herb Sendek said.

Daniel Gibson and P.J. Tucker led Texas with 17 points. Cameron Bennerman scored 16 for N.C. State, but he and Tony Bethel were 3-for-12 on threes.

It was difficult to tell whether the Wolfpack panicked too soon yesterday or whether Texas did that good a job of taking it out of its offensive sets.

After Texas turned a 38-33 halftime lead into a 51-40 margin nine minutes into the second half, N.C. State compounded matters with bad decisions. It launched five ill-advised threes in four minutes. Abrams sank three jump shots, two of them threes, and the Longhorns ran away.

Alan Schmadtke writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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