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Updated: Friday, March 19, 2004 12:08 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(3) Texas 66, (14) Princeton 49

DENVER (Ticker) -- Texas switched tactics early against Princeton this time to not have to sweat it out later.

Brandon Mouton scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half as the third-seeded Longhorns posted a 66-49 victory over the No. 14 Tigers in a first-round game in the Atlanta Region.

Texas got a major scare against deliberate Princeton in a regular-season meeting last season, holding on for a 57-54 victory as the Tigers missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

In the rematch, Princeton used a 12-0 run early in the first half to take a 14-6 lead on a pair of free throws by Will Venable with 8:46 left. But the Longhorns went to a half-court zone trap to force a quick tempo and only trailed, 25-22, at halftime.

"Our defense kept us right there; it was terrific throughout the game," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Princeton is a hard team to guard, they play hard, cut hard and they're a good team. The difference in the game tonight was that we got some good looks because we were playing inside and out."

Texas started the second half with a 24-6 surge. Mouton gave the Longhorns the lead for good, 30-29, with a layup with 17:31 left and added a 3-pointer for a four-point advantage. Texas made its first five attempts from long range in the second half.

"We were more aggressive," said forward Royal Ivey, who scored 15 points to become the 25th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. "We were attacking and playing inside-out."

The Longhorns outscored the Tigers, 44-24, in the second half, outshooting them, 60 percent to 35 percent.

"We understood it was going to be a close game," said Mouton, who was 8-of-15 from the field, draining 3-pointers. "We got down early but we did a great job of coming back. They're a very good ballclub. At halftime, we took it upon ourselves to come out and finish plays."

Brian Boddicker contributed 14 points as Texas (24-7) - a Final Four team last year - held an opponent under 50 points for the first time since a 76-45 victory over Texas-Arlington on November 27, 2002.

Venable had 11 of his 16 points in the second half and grabbed seven rebounds for Princeton (20-8), which had its nine-game winning streak stopped.

"(Texas) did a very good job of rotating between man-to-man and zone," said Tigers coach John Thompson, whose team was outrebounded, 43-23. "To be honest, we got good shots, they just didn't go in. This loss is going to stick with us for a while. This hurts."

The Longhorns face North Carolina in Saturday's second round.


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