Longhorns beat Bulldogs
BEN WALKER, AP Sports Writer
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- T.J. Ford took the opening tip, streaked downcourt and sliced through several defenders for an easy layup. Five seconds into the NCAA tournament, Texas was off and running.
Thought by many to be a shaky top seed, the Longhorns overwhelmed North Carolina Asheville at the start and had little trouble in an 82-61 victory Friday in the opening round of the South Regional.
Ford was at the forefront the whole way. The 5-foot-10 whirlybird sophomore showed why he might be the best guard in the country, zipping passes from all angles. He skipped the ball down low from just over halfcourt for one basket, then flipped it over his shoulder in transition for another hoop that made it 24-8.
Ford finished with only eight points, but had 11 assists. He also corralled seven rebounds, once keeping his dribble despite being knocked to the floor.
Brandon Mouton added 15 points, Brian Boddicker had 14 points and 12 rebounds and James Thomas had 13 points.
Most every Texas player benefited from a pass by Ford, who mixed in several long drives.
The Longhorns (23-6), who hadn't played in a week since being chased by Bobby Knight and Texas Tech in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament, advanced to the second round in the South. They'll play Sunday against Purdue.
Asheville (15-17) was the only team in the tourney with a losing record even after beating Texas Southern in Tuesday night's play-in game. Down 29-10, the Bulldogs did not fold and pulled to 36-28 when Alex Kragel scored the first basket of the second half.
Texas' depth and Ford's tenacity were too much, though, and Texas kept No. 1 seeds perfect against No. 16s in tournament history.
Beaten yet not bullied, Asheville still had a little swagger at the end. Guard Andre Smith dunked on an alley-oop, then split the Texas defense for another slam. Smith was called for a technical foul after hanging on the rim, but he managed a big smile.
The coaches also were smiling at the end, with Barnes warmly embracing Biedenbach.
Barnes was only 23, packing boxes and substitute teaching and working at his dad's hosiery mill when Biedenbach hired him in 1978 as a volunteer assistant at Davidson. They've remained good friends -- after Biedenbach guided the Bulldogs to a surprising Big South tournament title, one of the first congratulatory calls he got was from Barnes.
Smith scored 19 points and McGonagil had 16 for the Bulldogs. Smith did it despite often being guarded by Ford.
Six different players scored Texas' first six baskets, and the Longhorns broke away with a 10-0 run to take a 12-2 lead. The big edge let Ford take a couple of rests, because he'll surely need extra energy as Texas moves on.