Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) – Jordan Hamilton scored 17 points and Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 13 rebounds, as No. 10 Texas beat Texas A&M, 70-58, in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
J’Covan Brown netted 15 points off the bench for the Longhorns (27-6), who will meet Kansas in Saturday’s final.
The matchup will be a familiar one. Kansas and Texas met in the championship game of this tourney in three consecutive years from 2006-08, with the Jayhawks winning every time.
However, Texas won this season’s only matchup, 74-63, back on January 22 in Lawrence.
“It would mean a lot to us if we could just win, but I know it’s going to be hard,” Brown said. “Kansas is probably upset about what happened at their place, so they’re going to come out and just try to fight a whole lot, try and outrebound us and everything.”
Khris Middleton scored 18 points to pace the Aggies (24-8), who were looking to move into the final for the first time.
Texas held a 30-24 lead at halftime, but Middleton opened the second half with a three-pointer. His dunk three minutes in gave the Aggies a 31-30 edge, and it was a back-and-forth game until Texas started to pull away.
The Longhorns went on an 11-2 run, during which Brown drilled a pair of three- pointers. Jai Lucas sank a jumper with 9:31 to go, ending the rally and giving Texas a 52-41 advantage.
Texas A&M countered with the next five points to stay close, and was within 54-50 after Naji Hibbert made two foul shots with five minutes to play.
But Hamilton followed with a three and Thompson drained a jumper to give Texas some breathing room. The Longhorns made 6-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes to secure the win.
Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon said he was pleased with the way his team started, but not with the breakdowns late in the game.
“For us to get to where we want to be as a program and where we think we belong, we have to beat a team like Kansas or Texas,” Turgeon said. “We’ve got to play 40 minutes, not 37 or 32 or whatever we’ve done.”
Texas A&M made just 28 percent of its field goals in the first half, but built a 14-7 lead nearly seven minutes in. Texas scored the next three buckets to stay close and pulled ahead later in the half, making 43 percent of its shots in the period.
Cory Joseph, who finished with 10 points and six boards, hit a three-pointer with 1:09 left to cap the half’s scoring.
Texas advanced to the title game for the fifth time in the last eight years. The Longhorns have lost every time…Texas shot 49 percent overall…The Aggies made 21-of-27 free throws.