LUBBOCK, Texas (AP)—Kevin Durant had a game like no other in the history of Texas basketball.
The Texas freshman scored 37 points and grabbed 23 rebounds to become the first Longhorn and second player in the history of the Big 12 to have a 30-20 game in No. 22 Texas’ 76-64 win over Texas Tech on Wednesday night.
He even impressed Texas Tech coach Bob Knight.
“He’s really good,” he said. “The guy is 6-9, he is mobile, he’s quick, he’s fast. I mean what more does he have to do. There’s no secret thing that he drinks before the game.”
Durant got 24 of his points in the second half and outscored Texas Tech by two points after halftime.
“Who me? Oh, I didn’t even know I did that,” Durant said. “I really wasn’t worried about my stats or my rebounds or points. I just wanted to win.”
The only other player in Big 12 history to accomplish the feat was Oklahoma State’s Mario Boggan, who had 37 points and 20 rebounds against Texas on Jan. 16. He needed three OTs to do it.
Texas steadily pulled away from the Red Raiders, in part by pounding the ball inside for 30 points. The Longhorns went up 72-58 with 3:37 remaining and Tech couldn’t mount a comeback.
The loss was only Tech’s second at home this season and prevented the Red Raiders (15-7, 4-3 Big 12) from getting their third-straight win over a Top 25 team in Lubbock.
Jay Jackson scored 27 points and Jon Plefka added 14 to lead Tech.
Durant, who hit on 15-of-29 from the field, got his fifth 30-point game in last eight and now has 13 double-doubles for the season, tying him for the most ever in the Big 12.
And he did most of it on a turned ankle he suffered while going for a rebound, Texas coach Rick Barnes said.
“I was going to take him out of the game and I think he was ready to come out of the game but he said, ‘No, let me try again,”’ Barnes said. “And he did a great job, and we went zone for that reason to try and give him a chance to not move as much.”
Texas (16-5, 6-1 Big 12) handed Knight his 11th loss to the Longhorns since he arrived in 2001. He’s only beaten Texas twice.
The Longhorns used a 29-6 run midway through the second half to put the game away. Tech helped their cause, hitting on only 8-of-32 field goals after halftime. And Durant warmed up, getting 24 points after the break.
Knight said Texas showed it’s mettle in the final nine minutes.
“From that moment on, there was one really good team,” he said. “They dominated the game, took it away from us. That’s what a really good team does.”
Durant’s other 37-point games came against Colorado and Oklahoma State, the latter in a triple-overtime loss to the Cowboys. His 23 rebounds is Texas freshman record and one off the overall Texas mark.
“He was just tremendous,” Barnes said. “He’s a once in a lifetime guy. Teammates did a great job of trying to get him open. He’s special, and we’re lucky that we have him.”
It was much closer in the first half. Tech used a 14-7 run, started and capped by 3-pointers by Jay Jackson, to go up 40-34 with 2:07 remaining in the first half. The Red Raiders capitalized on mistakes by Texas, getting 13 points off the Longhorns six turnovers.
Durant had his 13th double-double of the season by halftime, though Tech led 42-38 at the break.
Durant dunked a rebound off a miss by Justin Mason at the buzzer but officials ruled it came late.
Before the game, Bob Knight took to the microphone and thanked Rick Barnes for his tribute to the Tech coach after he got his 880th win to sit atop the men’s Division I all-time win list Jan. 1.
“I think everybody who was here appreciates what you did and what you said, most of all the coaches and myself,” Knight told the crowd.
Knight gave Barnes a plaque with two note cards affixed to it. Knight makes two cards out before each game, one each for what he wants his team to do on offense and defense in a game. The note cards were from the New Mexico win that gave Knight the record.
Barnes choked up as he talked about Knight’s gift.
“I’m just overwhelmed by it,” he said. “When it comes from a man that is the best coach in what we do, it just means the world to me.”