AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Other players scored more points and made bigger shots.
For Texas coach Rick Barnes, no one made bigger plays for the No. 19 Longhorns than Justin Mason, whose tough defense in a 69-67 win over Colorado on Saturday night earned him a return to the starting lineup.Texas trailed by 13 early in the second half and Mason, a former starter relegated to the bench because of inconsistent play, had two blocks and a steal that Texas turned into points in a second-half run that turned the game.Texas had just taken the lead when Mason made the defensive plays of the night."He has struggled ... [but] he was the difference in the game today," Barnes said. "He came out and played like a junkyard dog."D.J. Augustin scored 25 points and A.J. Abrams added 17, sparking the rally with his 3-point shooting.A 3-pointer by Abrams gave Texas its first lead at 43-41 and Mason's defense kept the rally going. After Colorado made two free throws, Mason's two blocks and the steal all led to baskets as the Longhorns stretched their lead to six and kept pushing it.That kind of hustle earned Mason a return to the starting lineup for Texas (14-3, 1-1 Big 12) on Monday night at Oklahoma State, Barnes said."Every player goes through tough times in the course of a season," Mason said. "If I'm not scoring, coach expects me to be a leader on the defensive end."Richard Roby scored 18 points for Colorado (9-8, 1-2), which hit seven 3-pointers in the first half, but none in the second.Even with Texas' big rally, Colorado nearly clawed its way back at the end.Connor Atchley's 3-point play with 4:25 to play put Texas up 69-59 but it was the Longhorns' last basket of the game. A jumper by Roby and a layup by Marcus Hall cut the lead to four.Colorado's last chance came when the Buffaloes forced shot a clock violation with 18 seconds left, but Roby missed a 3-pointer before Levi Knutson's tip-in at the buzzer."We got a little sideways there and undisciplined and out of our offense for a few moments," Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik said of Texas' rally.Texas struggled to score in the first half after wingman Damion James, the Longhorns most consistent scorer of late, went to the bench six minutes in with his second foul. Colorado led 37-28 at halftime and 41-28 early in the second.Abrams started Texas' rally with a 3-pointer, then converted a 3-point play. James made his first basket, and Atchley started a fast break with a steal and finished it with a putback off James' missed dunk to pull within 41-38.After a Colorado timeout, Mason hit a layup and Abrams pulled up on a fast break for a 3-pointer, punctuating with the swish with a furious yell as Texas took its first lead.Colorado looked stunned when Abrams drilled yet another 3-pointer from deep in the left corner."We came out [in the second half] and played with more passion and more pride," Abrams said. "We wanted to protect home court."