SPOKANE, Wash. -- The best player on the floor will be the best player on the couch for the rest of the NCAA Tournament.
Texas freshman Kevin Durant's season came to an unceremonious close yesterday after an 87-68 thumping at the hands of surprising Southern California yesterday. Nick Young led USC with 22 points in the runaway, which left Durant -- the front-runner for national player of the year -- to decide whether to leave college for the NBA.
"I don't think that's an appropriate question right now," Durant said. "I'm just worried about this team and what we can be next year as a team."
As he often has this season, Durant led everyone with 30 points and added nine rebounds for fourth-seeded Texas (25-10).
But he never came close to dominating this East Regional game. Many times when he got the ball, the offense ground to a halt for the Longhorns, who fell behind by 17 early in the second half and never made a serious run.
Controlling Durant and minimizing the damage that guard D.J. Augustin could do was the key to the USC game plan.
"Basically, there's nothing you can do against Durant," Young said. "You just focus on the other two guys, Augustin and [A.J.] Abrams."
Augustin was held to 6 points and five assists, while Abrams had 20 points and was the only other Longhorn in double figures.
The fifth-seeded Trojans (25-11) also got 20 points from Daniel Hackett and 17 points and 14 rebounds from Taj Gibson -- a 6-foot-9-inch freshman like Durant. USC won by playing smarter, more disciplined basketball, especially on the defensive end.
The Trojans will make their first trip to the regional semis since 2001 -- and second since 1979 -- where they'll play North Carolina in East Rutherford, N.J.
With their 25th win, the Trojans set a program record.
Though Gibson and Durant weren't head-to-head for much of this, the USC freshman was more effective. After taking a nasty blow to the face that benched him at the end of the first half, Gibson iced this game in the second. He dominated the boards and made 9 of 14 free throws, almost all down the stretch.
Durant had nothing to be ashamed of. But he couldn't do it all for the Longhorns, and it is now decision time.
When the game was over, Durant looked to the stands and saw his father, Wayne Pratt, and mouthed the words "I love you" to him twice. Pratt declined interviews and Durant's teammates said they'd love to see the big guy stay.
"I hope he does," Damion James said. "Just think about the team we'll have next year. He's got to do what he's got to do. But I hope he doesn't leave."