AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas forward P.J. Tucker and his teammates
came alive just in time to escape upset-minded UNLV.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Tucker was too much for the Runnin'
Rebels to handle late in the Longhorns' 89-82 victory
on Sunday night.Tucker finished with 25 points, 14 in the second half, and 10
rebounds to help offset UNLVs hot 3-point shooting."P.J. Tucker is the kind of player that's going to fight and
claw every possession," first-year UNLV coach Lon Kruger said.
"He does everything he can to make his team better."Texas (10-2) finally shook off pesky UNLV (6-5) late in the
second half. The Longhorns (No. 12 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) trailed 67-65 with 5:50 to play after
UNLV guard Michael Umeh nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing, one
of seven the Runnin' Rebels made in the half. But Texas went on a
12-1 run to take control.Tucker's three-point play followed by his powerful defensive
rebound and no-look pass to LaMarcus Aldridge for a layup gave the
Longhorns a 72-67 lead with 4:20 left. After Brad Buckman hit two
free throws for Texas, Daniel Gibson passed to Jason Klotz for a
fastbreak layup to give the Longhorns a 77-68 lead with 2:01 to
play.Romel Beck and Jerel Blassingame each had 17 points for UNLV.UNLV trailed 48-40 early in the second half, but two 3-pointers
by Blassingame and another shot from behind the arc by Beck within
a 90-second span helped the Runnin' Rebels go on a 10-0 run to grab
a 50-48 lead with 13:30 to play.Beck hit consecutive 3-pointers to give UNLV an 18-13 lead, its
largest of the first half.Tucker then started to take over inside, scoring 11 points, and
Kenny Taylor hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to help the
Longhorns end the half on a 15-7 run and take a 40-34 lead.Texas coach Rick Barnes lauded Tucker's impressive play in the
paint."P.J. Tucker finds a lot of different ways to score," Barnes
said. "I think we wore them down tonight."Tucker drew praise from his teammates as well."He's just like Charles Barkley was," Klotz said. "He gets
the ball and goes so hard to the basket. I'm always glad when he
gets the ball down low."Tucker scored 20 points for the third time in the last four
games. He had been averaging 13.1 points and 8.7 rebounds. It was
also the fourth time in the last five games Tucker has recorded a
double-double.Buckman and Klotz each added 14 points for Texas.