AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—A.J. Abrams spent the last week trying to work out of a shooting slump.
On Tuesday night, it took him 39 minutes and 19 seconds.
Abrams, who was 1-for-5 from the field in the first half, hit a clutch 3-pointer with 41 seconds left to lead No. 9 Texas to a 70-66 victory over Nebraska.
“Yesterday (in practice) he was worrying about shooting it,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said of Abrams. “In that possession, we felt like he was due, and they did a really good job on him. That last possession they’ll think, ‘We let him go that last second’ and that’s all it took.”
D.J. Augustin scored 22 points for the Longhorns (25-5, 12-3), who moved into a tie for first place in the Big 12 with No. 5 Kansas.
Aleks Maric had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cornhuskers (17-11, 6-9).
Abrams’ deep 3-pointer broke a 61-61 tie. He was fouled on the inbounds pass and hit two free throws with 23 seconds left. Sek Henry hit a 3 to bring the Cornhuskers within two.
Abrams added his second set of free throws with 17 seconds left to give Texas a 68-64 lead.
Henry’s layup with 10 seconds to go had Nebraska within two points again.
On the ensuing inbounds, Connor Atchley’s pass was almost intercepted by Maric but it was knocked away by Texas’ Justin Mason who was fouled with 6 seconds to go.
“If I picked a player of the game, I’d pick Justin Mason,” Barnes said. “The play of the game, it was huge. It was a bad call for Connor to throw it, and Justin made a great save right there.”
Abrams was wide open right in front of Atchley and the guard made sure to let the forward know that.
“I just told him to give me the ball,” Abrams said. “It was a little more explicit, but not to throw that deep ball at that moment.”
Mason hit both free throws.
Nebraska got the ball to Maric but he missed a layup that was rebounded by Atchley to end the game.
Nebraska opened a 10-3 lead as Texas went 1-for-6 from the field in the first 5 minutes. Atchley and Abrams combined to go 1-for-8 in the first half.
“I don’t think I lose my confidence,” Abrams said. “My teammates do a good job of telling me to keep shooting it, and I’m not going to let them down.”
Augustin and Damion James teamed up to run Texas’ transition offense that took advantage of Nebraska’s seven first-half turnovers to take a 38-25 lead.
Ryan Anderson had 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting for Nebraska, while Paul Velander scored his nine points on 3-pointers.
“They made shots, and we had careless turnovers that allowed them to go down and hit shots,” Barnes said.
Augustin, who had four 3-pointers, was 9-for-16 from the field.
“(Nebraska’s defense) was as good as it can get and we still lost,” Cornhuskers coach Doc Sadler said. “He got 10 points from mid-range and was usually inside or on the perimeter.
“I don’t know that their team is an inside-oriented team,” Sadler said. “Atchley can come out and hit the big shot and their offense is so spread out. That’s their game: pick and pop.”