AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A.J. Abrams scored 23 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, and Texas shook off a sluggish start against overmatched Nicholls State to cruise to a 91-60 win Tuesday night.
On a night when Kevin Durant struggled to find his shooting touch early, Abrams' quick-release long-range stroke was more than enough to carry the Longhorns (4-1). Abrams has 27 3-pointers this season with only six baskets inside the arc.
Durant, the Big 12 freshman of the week the first two weeks of the season, started 3 of 10 shooting but still finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds against the Colonels (0-6), who have lost three games by 30 points or more.
Adonis Gray scored 26 to lead Nicholls State, which came in shooting 26 percent from 3-point range but hit seven in the first half.
After playing two games on television in Madison Square Garden in New York, the Longhorns came home to a mostly empty Erwin Center as many Texas students were already leaving campus for Thanksgiving.
Texas led 25-21 before Durant dunked and Abrams hit consecutive 3-pointers in an 11-0 Texas run. A pair of 3s by Nicholls State cut the gap to seven before the Longhorns closed the half with four straight baskets, including Abrams' sixth 3-pointer with 2 seconds left.
Whatever shooting touch Nicholls had in the first half was gone the in the second as Texas quickly put the game out of reach. Abrams hit another 3-pointer and the Longhorns pushed the lead to 58-35 with a burst to start the second half.
· With the win, Rick Barnes moved alone into second place on UT's list for most coaching victories with 195. Barnes passed Jack Gray (194 - 1937-42, 46-51) on the list and only trails Tom Penders (208 - 1989-98).
· Texas is 62-4 at home over the last five seasons.
· Kevin Durant has scored at least 20 points in all five games this season and is averaging 22.4 points per game.
· Texas' 21 assists marked a high for the season. The Longhorns had previously recorded 19 assists twice.
· Texas owned a 57-29 rebound advantage over Nicholls State. It marked the third time on the season in which UT has been +15 or better in rebound margin in a game.
· Kevin Durant registered his third career double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
· A.J. Abrams reached the 20-point mark by the half, making 7-of-11 from the field and 6-9 from three point range.
· A.J. Abrams recorded career high with five steals and four rebounds in the game.
· For the second time on the season, Abrams equaled the school record for most three-point field goals in a half with six in the opening stanza. He also made six threes in the first half against Chicago State.
· A.J. Abrams has hit at least six three-point field goals in three of UT's first five games and has converted on at least three 3-pointers in all five games.
· Damion James recorded a career-high with nine rebounds and has posted at least six boards in all five games on the season.
· D.J. Augustin has logged at least six assists in all five games this season and is averaging 7.4 per game.
· Justin Mason made his first career start for the Longhorns.
· Justin Mason reached double digits in the scoring column for the first time in his career and ended the game with a career-high 15 points.
· Texas has made at least 10 three-point field goals in three of its five games on the season.
· The seven freshmen combined to log 60 points (65.9% of the team total), 34 rebounds (66.7%) and 14 assists (66.7%).
NICHOLLS STATE QUOTES
J.P. Piper, Head Coach
On the game: No question that was an outstanding basketball team that we just played. The guys shot the ball really well tonight. The game plan was to challenge them to take perimeter jump shots and try to take away their interior game. They certainly responded and were able to separate. I was proud of our kids I thought we competed hard.
On forcing Texas to shoot outside: I didn't want to watch them dunk on us all night. We are in there defending their post players with wing forwards. I felt like putting those kids in the paint one-on-one was going to make it a little easier for them to score the ball. At least it is a lower percentage shot, but they do make them well. You have to pick your poison I guess.
Rick Barnes, Head Coach
On what he liked: We have had two hard days of practice and I wasn't sure how we would react. For the most part I saw some good things. I thought rebounding wise we made a conscious effort to put a body on a guy and go get the ball. We didn't run as hard as I thought we needed to in the first half. I am sure their game plan was to get us to shoot as many threes as we would like, but we did want to work on trying to get inside a little bit more.
On starting Justin Mason: He earned it. He deserved to be there with everything he has done since he's been here. He makes a lot of good plays. He is one of those guys that plays the game and is not concerned about anything. Almost kind of like the glue guy, the guy who will do whatever it takes to win. What you see out here is what you see everyday in practice.
On A.J. Abrams: I thought he was good tonight and that he really tried to make an effort. I thought he was trying to go out there and bother people and get his hands on some balls. If you look at his line, he had a great line. He came out and really tried to make a difference.
Justin Mason, Freshman Forward
On what Coach Barnes was expecting of him tonight: I was a little nervous, but Coach Barnes just wanted to execute and play the same way I had been coming off the bench. He wanted me to play the same kind of defense I had been playing, and before the game at shootaround he told me that he wanted me to be a little more aggressive on offense.
On how he liked starting his first game: I guess it kind of matters that I started, but not really... as long as our team is being consistent and productive on the court it shouldn't matter who starts.
A.J. Abrams, Sophomore Guard
On the game tonight: We came out a little flat in the first half, and Coach Barnes kind of let us know at halftime what we needed to work on in the second half. He wanted us to force the tempo a little bit because they were sagging back. Coming into the game, he told us they would be playing a zone so he wanted us to drive the lane and push the tempo. He challenged us to do that in the second half. I think we responded well and came out and played a full-court man and pushed the tempo to where we like it, and we got the kind of shots we wanted due to this.
On Coach Barnes' reaction at halftime: He wasn't too upset at us. He told us that he kind of figured we were going to come out a little flat after two hard days at practice. He just challenged us to pick up the tempo in the second half. The practices were like every other Coach Barnes' practice... very intense and up tempo.