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No. 16 Texas overcomes slow start against Alabama State in 68-48 win

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The Longhorns didn’t take a lead until late in the first half, but outscored the Hornets by 16 after halftime.

NCAA Basketball: South Alabama State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

A strong performance from junior forward Dylan Disu helped the No. 16 Texas Longhorns recover from a poor first half to cruise past the Alabama State Hornets, 68-48, on Wednesday afternoon at the Erwin Center.

Disu, the Vanderbilt transfer playing in his third game for Texas since returning from a knee injury, led the Horns with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four rebounds, three blocks, and two steals in an active performance.

“Every game I felt better just from a stamina standpoint,” Disu said. “I think you could tell just from like my explosiveness in game.”

Senior guard Marcus Carr added 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range in a promising development after struggling for much of the non-conference schedule.

Fellow senior guard Andrew Jones scored 12 points of his own, but only hit 1-of-6 attempts from beyond the arc. Jones did add three assists, all in the first half.

Texas got off to a poor start in front of an extremely sparse crowd at the Erwin Center, scoring only two points in the first seven minutes and eventually falling behind 16-4 before junior forward Tre Mitchell hit a three and Disu’s presence helped spark the offense. As the Longhorns came back to take the lead, 29-25, at halftime, Disu scored 10 points thanks to a dunk and four layups. The dunk came over two defenders and flashed some of the athleticism Texas has missed in the frontcourt.

Meanwhile, the defense tightened for Texas as Alabama State only scored six points in the final 11 minutes of the half. Turnovers hurt the Longhorns in the first 20 minutes — eight of the 12 giveaways came before the break.

Early in the second half, the Horns went on a 10-0 run to create some separation from the Hornets and held the visitors to 33.3-percent shooting after halftime. Six of the 11 opponents for Texas this season have now scored fewer than 50 points.

But the offense remains a concern after the Longhorns shot 29.2 percent from three-point range. Head coach Chris Beard admitted that even with 24 shots from distance, the players were turning down open shots, something he said the coaching staff has been working with them to fix.

Sophomore guard Devin Askew started once again, but turned the ball over three times and didn’t even attempt a shot in 14 minutes. Something is going on with senior guard Courtney Ramey, too — he played four minutes in the first half, missing two three-point attempts and turning the ball over once, then sat for the final 33:49.

Texas plays its final tuneup for Big 12 play on Tuesday at the Erwin Center against Incarnate Word, the nation’s No. 352 team in KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency metric.