The No. 4 Texas Longhorns got off to a fast start against the UTRGV Vaqueros on Saturday at Gregory Gym as four players scored eight or more points in the first half to take a 44-22 lead into the break and then cruised to a 91-54 win.
Guard Tyrese Hunter, the Texas floor general, got off to a particularly hot start with the first seven points for the Longhorns, hitting a three, pushing the ball in transition to get to the free-throw line, and then penetrating to force a goal-tending call on a layup attempt. By the time a steal by Hunter led to a three for guard Marcus Carr, Texas led 10-0 and UTRGV was forced to call a timeout before the first media break.
The visitors started the game missing their first six shots from the field while turning the ball over four times before leading scorer Justin Johnson broke the opening run by the Longhorns with a free throw.
Carr responded with a tough banking runner from the left side of the lane and forward Dylan Disu forced the fifth turnover by the Vaqueros by drawing a charge with a crisp rotation defensively.
Out of the under-16 timeout, UTRGV finally hit its first field goal, but weren’t able to bite into the Texas lead despite the Longhorns going slightly more than three minutes without a basket. With Texas pushing the ball in transition, a drive by Carr produced a kickout pass and then a swing pass to guard Sir’Jabari Rice, who pump faked and drove into contact, finishing the three-point play at the line for a 17-3 lead.
A second lull for the Longhorns resulted in six missed shots and a scoreless drought of almost four minutes stopped by a Hunter dunk in transition after a steal by Disu. At the under-eight timeout Texas led 21-9 with an 11-2 advantage in points off turnovers thanks to five steals and five blocks.
The sixth steal came from forward Dillon Mitchell stepping in front of a lazy pass to the perimeter and finishing with a loud right-handed dunk in transition.
A three from Carr on a kickout pass from Disu pushed the Texas lead to 16 points, the largest of the game. The Horns kept running with a defensive rebound leading to an assist from Carr to Mitchell, who one-upped his previous dunk with a two-handed finish over a UTRGV defender that produced enough of a reaction from forward Christian Bishop to draw a cheap technical foul.
The dunks helped Texas get hot from the field, hitting 7-of-9 field goals, including another dunk from Mitchell, once in again in transition, but this time on a lob from Rice.
A free throw by guard Brock Cunningham following a skirmish for a loose ball stretched the Longhorns lead to 21 points with under two minutes remaining in the first half and was followed by a three from Rice, who then paid back the assist from Disu with an assist to Disu for a layup on a sweet pocket pass in the lane.
Texas went into halftime with the 22-point lead after scoring 19 points from 14 UTRGV turnovers (six blocks, eight steals) and holding the Vaqueros to 30.8 percent shooting from the floor, including misses on all five three-point attempts.
Disu picked up his career high fifth block early in the second half and sandwiched a layup and a second-chance score around a three by Hunter to extend the lead to 29 points. In a scary moment initially, Disu left the game after appearing to suffer a left knee injury, but checked back into the game several minutes later. Texas also started the second half shooting 1-of-8 from three, including one by Hunter that hit the side of the backboard, although the game already was well into effective garbage time.
And the Horns did have a better stretch after the halfway point of the second half as Carr hit two threes in less than two minutes and Hunter added one of his own. With the second three by Carr coming on the fast break, in addition to a layup by Rice, Texas extended its advantage in fast-break points to 16-2 as UTRGV burned a timeout prior to the under-eight break.
At the under-four timeout, Texas had its largest lead of the game at 31 points thanks to a quick 5-0 run from Rice.
The New Mexico State transfer finished with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting with five rebounds and five assists while Carr added 18 points and Hunter scored 17 points. Mitchell was the other Texas player in double digits with 10 points. Five players had two or more steals for the Longhorns.