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Texas joins Marquette, Kansas and Syracuse in New Orleans

SAN ANTONIO — The Texas Longhorns are the last No. 1 seed standing, headed to the Final Four for the first time in 56 years.

T.J. Ford had 19 points and 10 assists to lead Texas to the biggest victory in school history Sunday, sending the Longhorns past Michigan State 85-76 in the South Regional final — just 80 miles from their Austin campus.

With chants of "Texas Fight" and "Final Four" reverberating throughout the Alamodome, the Longhorns earned the school's first trip to the Final Four since 1947, when the NCAA tournament field was eight teams.

As the final seconds ticked off, Ford dribbled to halfcourt, flashed a "Hook 'em Horns" sign to the crowd and hugged coach Rick Barnes. Ford was named the most valuable player of the regional.

The Texas win means the Big 12 will have two teams in the Final Four for the second straight year. Kansas, the league's regular-season champion, won the West Regional on Saturday.

The loss kept Michigan State from appearing in its fourth Final Four in five years.

The last time only one No. 1 seed made the Final Four was 2000, when top-seeded Michigan State won the national title.

Texas (26-6) will play Syracuse (28-5) in the national semifinals next Saturday. The Orangemen beat Oklahoma earlier Sunday.

Texas had four players score in double figures. Brandon Mouton had 16, Brian Boddicker 15, Sydmill Harris 12 and Brad Buckman 11 as the Longhorns tied the school record for victories in a season.

Paul Davis led Michigan State (22-13) with 15 points and Erazem Lorbek had 14 points and nine rebounds.

The Spartans had a 38-28 rebounding advantage but couldn't match Texas' 49 percent shooting and 29-of-38 effort from the foul line. Texas never trailed after leading 18-16 in the first half, and the Spartans never got closer than five in the second.

Texas dictated the fast pace it wanted in the first half, shooting 53 percent as Boddicker and Harris combined to hit five 3-pointers to counter the Spartans' 23-11 rebounding advantage.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had predicted that the game would look like an "old-fashioned fistfight," and it took on the expected physical tone right away.

The Spartans tried to frustrate Ford by closing down the paint on defense and bumping him with larger bodies, especially 6-foot-5, 215-pound guard Kelvin Torbert, who had five inches and 50 pounds on Ford.

The tactic seemed to work, as Ford appeared frustrated when he twice tumbled to the floor. But instead of slashing, Ford started looking outside for Boddicker and Harris. Texas twice built 11-point leads, the last at 41-30 on Boddicker's 3-pointer with 3:01 left in the half.

Texas led 43-38 at halftime. It was the second-most points the Spartans gave up in the first half all season.