DES MOINES, Iowa (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat from 3-point range Saturday against 10th-seeded Penn State, but senior forward Dylan Disu made up for that — and then some.
Disu poured in a game-high 28 points on 14-of-20 shooting, and despite a 1-for-13 night from long distance by the Longhorns, they topped the Nittany Lions 71-66 to move on to the Sweet 16.
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It’s the first time Texas has been to the Sweet 16 since the 2007-08 season. Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry was an assistant for the team that year under head coach Rick Barnes.
“These guys with a one-day prep, they sat down and followed the game plan,” Terry said. “We put this one on our defense. We know some nights we’re not going to shoot as well as we want, but our defense travels. Our guys competed at a very high level.”
It was a season-high in scoring for Disu, who has played sensational in the postseason for Texas. He was named the Big 12 Conference tournament’s most outstanding player after scoring 44 points in three games, and he notched 17 points and 10 rebounds in the NCAA tournament first-round win against Colgate.
His 14 made field goals broke the school record for most made shots in an NCAA tournament game shared by Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge.
“Everyone has dreams of showing up in March Madness, and my teammates were finding me,” Disu said. “I couldn’t have done this without my teammates.”
Terry said the game plan was to attack the paint the entire night, and the Longhorns scored more than half of their points — 40 — in the painted area.
“We knew we had a size advantage in there, and whether they were in man or zone, we really wanted to get the ball in there,” Terry said.
The Nittany Lions roared back from an 11-point deficit in the second half and briefly took the lead with around five minutes left. Penn State capped a 10-0 run with a Seth Lundy transition layup at the 4:48 mark to give his team a 58-55 lead.
However, Disu scored eight of the next 10 points for the Longhorns to spark a 10-0 run of their own. By the time the run was over, Texas led 65-58 with 55 seconds remaining.
“We’ve been battle-tested time and time again,” senior forward Timmy Allen said. “This was nothing new. We play in the best conference in the country, and we knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Dylan had another special night, and on the defensive end, guys came in with a ton of energy.”
Texas led 31-23 at the end of the first half despite missing all eight of their 3-point attempts. The Nittany Lions were 2-for-13 from 3-point range, so the areas of the game that got both teams through the first round were completely absent to start the game. Penn State heated up from outside in the second half to make the game close, hitting 6 of 15 3-point shots to finish 8-for-28 from that range.
The game was tied twice in the first half, but following a Rice layup with 7:02 left, the Longhorns led the rest. Disu scored six of the Longhorns’ last eight points of the first half, and the final bucket came from a long jumper by Marcus Carr just before the buzzer.
For Penn State, five players scored in double figures led by Camren Wynter’s 16 points. All-American guard Jalen Pickett scored 11 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, but also had seven of Penn State’s nine turnovers. Andrew Funk and Myles Dread each scored 12 points and Lundy had 11 points.
The Longhorns advance to the Sweet 16 either Thursday or Friday to face third-seeded Xavier at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Musketeers beat the Panthers 84-73 on Sunday to move on. The game date and time will be announced once the entire Sweet 16 field is set after Sunday’s games.