Texas transfer Dylan Disu’s knee, athleticism sure look solid in win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Disu on his knee: ‘Yeah, I think I can play a couple more minutes, but we’re just going to listen to the doctor’s orders right now.’
No. 17 Texas ran through a sweaty workout Tuesday and beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 63-31. The final score was the only thing remarkable about a win over a 1-11 team.
The 10,513 fans at the Erwin Center must’ve already finished their holiday shopping. Or didn’t pay the cable bill. Or just wanted a night out.
Even Texas coach Chris Beard had mentally moved on by the time he met with reporters. Pine Bluff tied the second-lowest scoring total by a Texas opponent since SMU managed only 31 points in January 1952.
“China has been on my mind lately,” Beard said. “In JUCO we did a lot of Chinese buffets. There’s always sweet and sour chicken on the Chinese buffet, and that is basically just chicken nuggets if you think about it.”
Eureka! As fate would have it, P.F. Chang’s was preordered for the postgame meal.
Dylan Disu is another spicy story all together. His first appearance in a Texas uniform — granted for just 12 minutes — was a commanding one. Disu had two points, five rebounds and a block in his first collegiate basketball game since Feb. 20. He was every bit as good as the sesame chicken.
“It felt great. It's been a long road. It's been a long time since I played basketball,” Disu said. “Felt good to get back out there and just hoop.”
Texas coaches, teammates, fans and even reporters have been waiting and waiting for the Vanderbilt transfer from Pflugerville to get medical clearance. Beard stressed repeatedly that doctors would take Disu’s knee recovery slow.
Funny how Disu got clearance after Texas (6-2) got beat up on the glass and outhustled by Seton Hall in the only competitive nonconference game outside of Gonzaga. In basketball as in life, timing’s everything.
“That hurt him at Seton Hall. You could see it in his eyes,” Beard said. “Hurt me, too. We could have used him.”
Texas officials sent up a white puff of smoke around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday that Disu had been given a green light, although his minutes would be restricted.
No reason to hold back against Pine Bluff, ranked 343rd out of 358 teams in Division I in the NCAA’s NET rankings. The algorithm had the Golden Lions pegged as one of the worst teams in college basketball.
Beard shook up the starting lineup, inserting Devin Askew and Andrew Jones into the starting five. Everybody was playing Tuesday night. Tristen Licon, normally inserted for mop-up duty, came in early in the first half, for example.
But all eyes were focused on the 6-foot-9 big man who jogged onto the court with 11:08 left in the first half.
Disu was on pace to be the SEC’s leading rebounder last season when it was determined he needed season-ending knee surgery. This decision came down in late February, so when Disu transferred to Texas, it was known he was still going through rehabilitation.
Beard insisted Disu would not be rushed into game action. “I'm just making sure that I'm cautious and taking it slow,” Disu said on Oct. 14. “I’m making sure I’m 100% when I do come back.”
If Tuesday wasn’t 100%, it’ll sure be impressive when Disu gets there. Less than a minute into his UT debut, Disu went skyward to block 6-foot-4 Dequan Morris. It was an express elevator to the penthouse.
“I feel like I expect to do things like that,” Disu said. “I think I’m pretty good at blocking shots, and that’s what the coaching staff kind of expects from me coming back, helping be a rim protector. So, I don't think that it was anything special.”
He checked out moments later, but Disu returned with 5:30 left in the first half. Disu got knocked to the ground on a box out but jumped up and ran the other way. Disu would later collect a rebound, make a move and score his first bucket with ease.
Then with 2:28 remaining before halftime, Disu would take a smooth looking 3-pointer in transition. The shot didn’t go in, but Disu’s confidence just pulling the trigger in rhythm was unmistakable. He shot 36.9% from 3-point range last season for the Commodores.
A 6-10 forward who almost averaged a double-double in the SEC last season and can shoot from the outside? NBA scouts will love this guy.
“The only problem I had with his 3-point shot tonight was it didn’t go in,” Beard said.
Perhaps Disu’s most athletic play didn’t even count. Marcus Carr forced a steal in the open floor and ran the other way. Carr got fouled on his layup attempt. Still, Disu trailed the play, grabbed the rebound with one hand and threw down a stunning dunk that, unfortunately for him, did not count.
So what happens next? Well, it’s unclear. Disu was cleared for five-on-five, full-contact practice in November. Will Disu have a governor on his minutes going forward?
“Yeah, I think I can play a couple more minutes, but we’re just going to listen to the doctor’s orders right now. I won’t go into too much detail about how many specific minutes game by game but we'll just take it slow.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the Horns had no problems with Tuesday’s strenuous activities. Eleven players scored with Tre Mitchell (14 points) the only one in double figures. Texas shot 42.9% overall and went 6-for-20 from 3-point range, a slight improvement from the 1-for-13 showing last Thursday in New Jersey.
Texas set new season lows in points allowed (31), field goals allowed (12) and defensive field goal percentage (.308). As much as fans would like to credit the Horns’ defense, the Golden Bears came into Austin as one of the worst shooting teams in Division I (.385).
“We played defense tonight from where I was sitting pretty good,” Beard said.