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From T.J. to P.J.

Tucker, Texas' only freshman, steps up as 'Horns pound Brown 89-51

Posted: Tuesday November 18, 2003 1:40AM; Updated: Tuesday November 18, 2003 1:41AM
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- With seniors and experience all over the lineup, freshman P.J. Tucker starred for No. 11 Texas in the Longhorns' season opener.

Tucker had 18 points and 13 rebounds in his Texas debut Monday night, leading the Longhorns to an 89-51 victory over Brown.

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"I didn't think I was going to do that good," Tucker said. "I just expected to play hard, that's all I can control. I think I did all right for my first game. My teammates just gave me the ball a lot."

Brandon Mouton scored 16 points, Kenny Taylor and Brian Boddicker each added 12, and James Thomas had 19 rebounds for the Longhorns.

But it was Tucker who had the home crowd excited. The Longhorns' only freshman on scholarship used his bruising 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame to muscle over and through Brown (0-1) for points and rebounds.

He is just the third Texas freshman to post a double-double in his debut. He set the school first-game record for rebounds and tied the points mark.

"With the addition of P.J. we go a long way because he knows how to score and rebound down low," said Thomas, a senior who has 905 career boards. Texas outrebounded Brown 62-33.

The season opener was supposed to be all about how Texas replaces former All-American guard T.J. Ford, who led Texas to its first Final Four since 1947 but left school for the NBA after last season. The Longhorns return four starters and four seniors from their Final Four team.

But Ford's absence led to a predictably sloppy first outing for the Longhorns, who committed nine turnovers in the first half and generally looked out of sync.

Senior Royal Ivey is handling the point guard spot where he started 26 games as a freshman before Ford arrived.

"We were a little jumpy, which surprised me a little bit," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "I don't know why we were, maybe that's just the way we're supposed to be this time of year."

Ivey showed some flashes of what he learned from Ford but finished with just two assists and six points. On one play in the first half he stripped the ball from Brown guard Jason Forte, blew past a defender with a behind-the-back dribble and threw a no-look pass to Tucker.

Like Ford's teammates in the past, Tucker wasn't expecting the ball and missed the layup. It was one of the few mistakes he made on the night as he finished with 7-of-11 shooting and went 4-of-6 from the foul line.

Once Texas settled down, the Longhorns used runs of 13-0 and 16-7 in the first half to take a 38-21 lead into halftime. Mouton went 5 of 8 from the floor in the first half for 12 points.

"Obviously, we were overmatched," said Brown coach Glen Miller, whose team plays in the Ivy League and went to the NIT last season.

"This game is going to help us down the road when we get back down to our level of competition," he said.

Jaime Kilburn led Brown with 16 points.

Tucker and Taylor, the Big 12's leading 3-point shooter last season who transferred from Baylor to Texas during the summer, took over in the second half.

Taylor hit four 3-pointers, three in the second half as the Longhorns pulled away. He also had a team-high three assists, two of them to Tucker on fast breaks.

"It's like he's got some point guard skills," Brown said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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