AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas got some new muscle on the floor and turned up the defense to earn an easy win Tuesday night over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The question now is how many minutes and rebounds can forward Dylan Disu give the No. 17 Longhorns game going forward?
Disu, a transfer from Vanderbilt who was the leading rebounder in the Southeastern Conference for a while last season, made his Texas debut after a long recovery from a knee injury in the Longhorns’ 63-31 victory. His line was modest: two points, five rebounds and a block in 12 minutes.
But it was his big presence and sheer potential that will excite the Longhorns, who were led Tuesday by Tre Mitchell’s 14 points and held Arkansas-Pine Bluff without a basket for nearly 12 minutes to start the game.
Disu hadn’t been cleared to play in a game until Tuesday, although he’d already been practicing. The Longhorns had missed his ability to snatch rebounds and protect the basket, especially in a tough road loss last week at Seton Hall.
“I think I could play more minutes, but we’re going under doctor’s orders right now,” Disu said. “It was a tough feeling when I couldn’t help out a lot of games this season … I want to continue to rebound and protect the rim and the offense will take of itself.”
Texas (7-2) began the game with a clampdown on defense, then broke it open with a run of four consecutive 3-pointers capped by Mitchell’s long shot from the left wing that made it 17-1. The Golden Lions (1-11) were completely overmatched.
First-year Texas coach Chris Beard tinkered with his lineup, starting Kentucky transfer point guard Devin Askew for the first time this season and sixth-year shooting guard Andrew Jones for the first time in five games.
The mix-and-match lineup was slow to find a rhythm offensively and managed just two baskets over the first five minutes until Jones started the run of 3-pointers. The Longhorns made five from long range in the first half after making just one against Seton Hall.
“We are still a work in progress. We don’t really have one yet,” Beard said of his starting lineup. “We’re still trying to piece this together.”
Texas led 36-16 at halftime. Courtney Ramey made a 3-pointer in the opening minutes of the second half and the Longhorns put on the defensive clamps again. Arkansas-Pine Bluff managed just two baskets over the first six minutes of the second half.
Texas slowly stretched the lead, even on those possessions when the Longhorns struggled to find a shot. Marcus Carr’s one-handed flip over a defender to beat the shot clock put Texas ahead 47-20.
Texas held the Golden Lions to 31% shooting and scored 23 points off 20 Pine Bluff turnovers.
“We played defense, from where I was sitting, pretty good,” Beard said.
Kylen Milton led Arkansas-Pine Bluff with eight points.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: The Golden Lions pestered Texas early on the defense but struggled to find even an open shot against the taller and stronger Longhorns. Brandon Brown broke the early scoring drought with a free throw with 13:51 left in the first half. Pine Bluff missed its first 10 shots before Milton’s 3-pointer with 8:11 left in the half.
Texas: The Longhorns have built their record against a schedule filled with creampuffs. Their two losses came on the road at No. 5 Gonzaga and No. 16 Seton Hall. All of their victories have come against teams rated No. 134 or lower in the NCAA’s composite net team rankings. Árkansas-Pine Bluff came in rated No. 343 by the NCAA.
Pine Bluff’s 31 points tied for the second-fewest allowed by Texas since the 1949-50 season. Texas allowed just 27 against Texas State in a Longhorns win in the 2014-15 season.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Hosts Ecclesia College on Saturday.
Texas: Plays Stanford on Sunday in Las Vegas.