SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- With T.J. Ford saddled with fouls and Brandon Mouton carrying the scoring load, Brian Boddicker came up with the biggest play of the game for Texas.
Boddicker came up with a huge block that resulted in a late jump ball as the top-seeded Longhorns survived for an 82-78 victory over No. 5 Connecticut in the semifinals of the South Region.
After James Thomas' two free throws gave Texas (25-6) a 78-76 lead with 57 seconds left, Connecticut tried to answer. Freshman Rashad Anderson missed a jumper with 42 seconds left, but the rebound was batted out to the Huskies.
Connecticut point guard Taliek Brown found freshman Marcus White under the basket and Hayes' layup attempt was blocked by Boddicker and wedged between the rim and backboard for a jump ball with 35 seconds to go. The possession arrow was in favor of Texas.
"I just wanted a piece of it," Boddicker said. "I look up and the ball's wedged and the possession arrow's in our favor. It was huge."
"It's a unique play with 35 seconds left," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said. "Because of the genius of the officiating, they don't want to throw the ball up, they (Texas) gets the ball on the alternating possession. I've always been against that rule."
Royal Ivey and Ford each hit a pair of free throws in the final 21 seconds to seal Texas' first trip to a regional final since 1990. The Longhorns will face Michigan State.
"Our goal is to win the national championship," Ford said. "We're still three games away."
Mouton scored 15 of his career-high 27 points in the second half for Texas, which survived 35 percent (24-of-69) shooting. Thomas added 13 points and 15 rebounds.
"All year long, I've told people we're not a one-man team," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "I thought tonight we had lots of guys play well."
"I was really trying to concentrate tonight on knocking down shots," said Mouton, who made 10-of-18 from the floor. "They were falling for me."
Emeka Okafor led Connecticut (23-10) with 21 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks but Okafor missed three of four shots in a 2:05 span late in the game.
The Longhorns turned in a strong game at the foul line, shooting 81 percent (29-of-36). Ford made all seven attempts and Ivey connected on all six.
Meanwhile, UConn struggled at the line and misfired on 5-of-14 attempts in the first half. The Huskies finished the game at 56 percent (14-of-25).
Connecticut was in a malaise when Calhoun was called for a technical for arguing a call. Ford's two free throws gave Texas a 54-44 lead and the Longhorns took their largest lead at 62-48 with 12:25 left to play.
But Ford picked up his fourth foul with 10 1/2 minutes remaining and the Huskies took advantage. Ben Gordon scored seven points as UConn ran off 11 straight to get within three points.
"I believe in my teammates," Ford said. "I didn't get down at all. They wer going to keep playing, keep playing aggressive."
Ford continued to sit and Connecticut continued to roll. Gordon's 3-pointer with 5:15 remaining gave the Huskies a 74-71 lead, their first lead since midway through the first half.
"When we went on that run, we got our momentum back and started to play our style of basketball," Gordon said.
After Ford re-entered, Ivey made a pair from the line and Boddicker added one foul shot for a 74-74 tie.
"I made up my mind that I wasn't going to put him back in until they tied the game or took the lead," Barnes said. "They took the lead and that's as long as we could keep him there."
Okafor missed a pair of short hook shots and Mouton converted a layup after taking a nifty feed from Ford for a 76-74 edge. Okafor's follow shot pulled UConn even, but he missed another difficult hook shot after Ford missed a jumper.
Connecticut had just two baskets in the final five minutes.
"When the game came down to the wire, things just didn't go our way and we didn't end up with the win," Okafor said.
Texas held a commanding 52-41 edge on the glass, including a 35-21 cushion in the first half.
Ford had a miserable shooting night, making 3-of-15 shots. He still finished with 13 points and nine assists and Royal Ivey netted 10 points.
Brown scored nine points and handed out seven assists as he held his own in his matchup with Ford. The two squared off plenty of times in summer-league play in Houston in their high school days.
"When I had the chance to go, I would go," Brown said. "I wasn't trying to get him into foul trouble, I was just playing my game."
Gordon scored 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting for UConn, which lost to Maryland in the East Region final a year ago.