Dylan Disu emerges as true leader for Longhorns in 68-48 win over Alabama State

Nick Pannes, Sports Reporter

After having a breakout game last week in Las Vegas to secure a close win against Stanford, junior forward Dylan Disu played even better Wednesday as he saved his team from what would have been a devastating loss against the now 2–10 Alabama State Hornets.

Before Disu took the game by storm Wednesday afternoon in the 68-48 win, the No. 16  Longhorns were in complete disarray. An audience of 11,732 at Frank Erwin Center watched the Hornets build a one-point lead as they controlled the court through the first eight minutes of play. Former Longhorn Gerald Liddell left a bitter taste in fans’ mouths as they watched him outplay the new stars of his old team.

Then came a critical coaching decision. Disu had only been in the game two minutes before head coach Chris Beard rotated his entire team off the court following a Hornet turnover. Thirty seconds later, an Alabama State offensive foul prompted Beard to throw Disu back in the game.

Beard’s decision proved fruitful. Disu would go on to score 10 points in 10 minutes and hand the Longhorns their first lead of the game with a minute remaining in the half. Texas would lead for the rest of the match.

A 6-foot-9-inch, 225-pound transfer from Vanderbilt, Disu was one of several highly anticipated burnt orange newcomers coming into this season. As a strong defender and proficient inside scorer, he averaged 15.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the SEC.

Unfortunately, he was sidelined for most of this season due to a knee injury he suffered as a Commodore.

This matchup was only Disu’s third as a Longhorn. He finished the day as the game leader in points with 14 and showcased his defensive skills with three blocks and two steals. A strong showing for any player through a complete game.

What’s really impressive is that Disu isn’t even cleared for full play yet. Medical staff have recommended reduced minutes as he eases into playing for his new squad.

So by the end of the game, Disu had tacked up all those numbers in only 18 minutes.

When the Longhorns finalized their lineup for this season, pundits saw potential for Disu, senior forward Timmy Allen and junior forward Tre Mitchell to flourish as a big-men trio under a coaching system that played right into their strengths: positionally fluid offense and a strong, no-nonsense defense.

So far the pundits seem right. Allen and Mitchell have been mainstay contributors to their team. And if Disu can maintain this performance, or even improve upon it once he’s cleared for full play, the Longhorns could have one of the best sets of forwards in the country.

In a media availability last Thursday, Beard also highlighted the offensive power these three bring to the table, saying the possibilities were endless on the offensive end. However, he also said more questions remain as to their defensive cohesion.

If Disu’s play the last two games is any true indication of his defensive ability, he could bring an end to that speculation.

But perhaps the most noteworthy point of Disu so far has been his intangible impact. In both the Stanford game and this one, he took the helm and lit a fire in his team when they were struggling. 

In sports, that’s a true tell of a strong leader. The only question remaining is if he can continue this performance and show growth against tougher competition.