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Texas joins four-team tournament to honor former Longhorns coach Abe Lemons

The late Texas coach Abe Lemons, who guided the Longhorns from 1977-82, will be honored during a tournament this season at the Erwin Center.

Texas men's basketball coach Chris Beard needs early, preferably lighter non-conference games to get an entirely new roster to find some rhythm. What better way than to play in your own tournament.

Texas announced Tuesday it will participate in the Abe Lemons Classic at the Erwin Center this season. The multi-team event, organized by the Gazelle Group, features Texas, California Baptist, Northern Colorado and San Jose State.

The games will run from Nov. 17-24. All tip times will be announced at a later date. 

Texas players hoist coach Abe Lemons on their shoulders at Madison Square Garden after winning the NIT with a 101-93 win over North Carolina State on March 22, 1978.

The tournament will pay tribute to Lemons, the former Longhorns coach who went 110-63 in five seasons from 1977-82. During that time, Texas won the 1978 NIT championship and back-to-back Southwest Conference titles in 1978 and 1979. Lemons was inducted into the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor in 1994. A.E. “Abe” Lemons died in 2002.

“The Abe Lemons Classic is another early step to unite the Texas basketball family,” Beard said in a statement. “It is a great opportunity to honor coach Lemons and his family while also recognizing and embracing all of coach’s former players and staff.”

Handicapping the Lemons Classic — or any early-season action, for that matter — is difficult given the amount of roster turnover everywhere. 

Texas has only four returning scholarship players from last season. But Beard and his assistants have dominated the transfer portal, scooping up some of the most well-regarded players available.

California Baptist was 13-10 last season and finished fourth in the WAC. Northern Colorado was 11-11 and seventh in the Big Sky. San Jose State went 5-16 overall. 

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.