MSU Comeback Comes Up Short Against Texas

Texas jumped out to a 23-point lead against third-seeded Mississippi State thanks largely to Deginald Erskin, whose shooting helped the Longhorns hold on for a 68-64 victory in the Midwest Regional. The Number six-seeded Longhorns (22-11) play Number two Oregon in the round of 16 in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday. Erskin, a six-foot-six junior, finished with 17 points. But he had a 12-minute scoring drought in the second half until making a bucket while being fouled by Mississippi State forward Mario Austin with 1:52 left and the Bulldogs within two points. Erskin made the free throw to put the Longhorns ahead 64-59. Royal Ivey made four free throws in the final 26 seconds to seal the outcome. Reserve Brian Boddicker added 11 points for the Longhorns, and freshman T.J. Ford chipped in 11 points and six assists, although he also committed an uncharacteristic seven turnovers. Texas heads to the final 16 for the first time since 1997. Mississippi State was out of sync from the very start. On the Bulldogs' first possession -- Austin shot an air ball and, after the miss was rebounded, Derrick Zimmerman turned the ball over. On Mississippi's State next trip down the court, Zimmerman barely drew iron on a 3-point attempt. The Bulldogs made a late run, however, using a couple of 3s each from Timmy Bowers and Michael Gholar to close the gap to 41-29 by the break. In the second half -- Mississippi State continued to cut into the Longhorns' lead. Using a strong halfcourt defense, the Bulldogs forced Texas into turnovers and converted them into easy layups. The Longhorns finished with 20 turnovers. Mississippi State pulled within 60-57 with about three minutes remaining. But Zimmerman missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it. Mississippi State finishes the season with 27-and-7 record.