Dylan Disu had a season-high 28 points in 14-for-20 shooting, stabilized Texas after a late Penn State surge and led the Longhorns to their first regional win in 15 years with a 71-66 second-round win NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
The second-seeded Longhorns (28-8) made just one of 13 shots from 3-point land, so Disu turned this into a middle-distance game. He went 5-for-5 in the last 4 1/2 minutes and grabbed 10 rebounds for good measure.
Sir’Jabari Rice scored 13 points for Texas, who will face Pittsburgh-Xavier winners in Friday’s Midwest Region semifinals in Kansas City, Missouri. The 11th seeded Panthers and the 3rd seeded Musketeers meet on Sunday.
Camren Wynter had 16 points for the 10th seed Nittany Lions (23-14) who celebrated their first NCAA tournament win in 20 years. Second-team All-American Jalen Pickett had 11 points and 10 rebounds in seven turnovers.
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Andrew Funk (12 points) and Seth Lundy (11 points) bounced back after a scoreless first half each, but the top two 3-pointers in this season’s Big Ten went 4-for-16 together. Penn State was 8-for-28 from deep despite a steady stream of clean looks in the second half.
The outside shots that every team relied on in the first round mostly dried up, and the Longhorns went 31-18 without one until Rice, who hit seven 3s Thursday, forged a 55-48 lead.
The Nittany Lions responded with a 10-0 run. Myles Dread, the only guy with an outside rhythm, hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game with 6:08 left to cut the deficit to one. After Wynter gave Penn State their first lead since going 4-3 with two free throws, Timmy Allen threw a wild pass into the backcourt for a Texas turnover that Lundy tracked down for a layup to make it 58-55.
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But Disu came back with three straight baskets, a layup, a jumper and a turnaround to give Texas the lead back for good. Wynter saved a crucial over-and-back call from a timeout at 1:59, followed by Marcus Carr with a layup for Texas.
Carr fouled Lundy with a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left for a four-point game that made it a one-ball game, but Carr finished the game with two free throws. After the final honk, Allen flashed a big smile as he approached Rice for a hug and yelled, “Sweet 16, baby!”
Texas last reached the regional semifinals in 2008 and has not made the Final Four since 2003. voiced leader who took over from Chris Beard in December in the aftermath of a since-dropped domestic violence charge.
NO ‘D’ FOR DISU
The Nittany Lions did a fine job defending a Texas team that won 13-23 from 3-point range in the first round, but Disu was a different story. Disu hails from Pflugerville, Texas, just outside of Austin, and joined the Longhorns last season after starting his career with Vanderbilt.
Disu, who was named the most outstanding player in the Big 12 tournament, is the tallest player on this guard-dominated team at 1.87m. His long arms and the ability to gently drop those rainbow floats in and around the paint, a skill he’s recently added to his game, lets him play taller than he is.
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The Longhorns pressed Colgate’s national-best 3-point shooting in their first-round win as the Raiders went 3 for 15 from afar.
Penn State posed the same perimeter threat, finishing fifth in the nation and coming fresh from a 13-for-23 clinic in the first-round win over Texas A&M. The Nittany Lions set the all-time Big Ten record for 3-pointers made in a single season.
This Texas defense sure has some sharp teeth, though. The Longhorns held their previous five opponents, including twice Kansas and TCU, to an average of 57 points per game. Funk pulled in from the right wing for a 3-pointer after just 14 seconds that hit the front of the rim, a sign of how the night would play out. Carr, Rice, and Tyrese Hunter took turns following him.
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