Longhorns Spear Sun Devils

An SUV sits in front of a home damaged by a possible tornado in Bentonville, Ark., Sunday, March 12, 2006.
AP Photo/April L. Brown

Texas star Chris Mihm, who hurt his right leg early against Arizona State, winced through the pain and told his coach he needed to play.

"I know what a big game this was for us and how we needed to win," said Mihm, who scored 19 points in the 20th-ranked Longhorns' 88-71 victory Thursday in the Puerto Rico Shootout. "I wasn't going to sit out."

Mihm and the Longhorns (2-0) will face No. 18 DePaul on Friday. The Blue Demons routed American University at Puerto Rico 114-69 on Thursday night.

Gabe Muoneke led Texas with 29 points and Chris Owens added 17 for Texas. Muoneke said when Mihm went down early, it gave the team a few frightful moments.

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  • "When you lose Mihm, you remove a big part of this offense and we lose," Muoneke said. "So we had to find some way to make up for when he's not there."

    Mihm couldn't finish a driving layup near the game's start and then sat several times in the opening half as trainers iced down his right leg. He grimaced as he stepped back onto the court after halftime, trying to deal with the pain.

    But once play began, Mihm's injury wasn't apparent. He converted an inside bucket, then followed with a three-point play as Texas led 48-34.

    And Texas kept going to the 7-footer inside. He fought off two defenders, missed his shot and got fouled one time. Then set up down low on the Longhorns' next possession and got fouled again.

    "Mihm's a warrior," Owens said. "He's going to do what he has to for us to win."

    Mihm, one of 10 preseason Naismith Award candidates, came out for good, wincing as he hit the floor on another hard landing, with 9:02 left. He sat out for the rest of the game with an ice pack tied just below the knee.

    Freshman Shawn Redhage led Arizona State (1-1) with 17 points, all but two in the second half. Eddie House, the team's top scorer with 19 points a game, was held to four.

    Texas coach Rick Barnes said he told William Clay, a senior he calls the "Junkyard Dog," that nothing was more important than stopping House. "I just want him to go get it for us," Barnes said.

    Arizona State coach Rob Evans said that House felt frustrated and was not patient to wait for his teammates. "We told him at halftime to let us set some screens for him," Evans said. "He's got to learn some patience."

    But Evans said his team, which led 26-25 late in the first half, held up well against the much stronger and bigger Longhorns. "They just wore us down after that," Evans said. "That's a very nice front line."

    But it would be less wonderful without Mihm. He said he felt sharp pain at every step after his fall. Trainers planned to work on it overnight and wouldn't know until gametime Friday if Mihm could go.

    Mihm hobbled up the stairs slowly before heading for the team bus. But even if he's hampered some, he's happy that he's got Muoneke and Owens to watch his back. "That's the way it is with us," Mihm said. "There are a lot of people who can play for us."

    Muoneke and Owens made up for Mihm's first-half absence, combining for 21 points. But the Longhorns were down 26-25 with 3:27 left in the first half when they came up with a 10-2 run.

    Muoneke and Owens had the final two baskets in the spurt.

    Texas started just as strongly in the second half, putting the game away with a 29-16 run as Mihm, Muoneke and Owens combined to convert six three-point plays.

    "We talk about being a three-point team from the inside as well," Barnes said. "We work on that all the time."

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