AUSTIN, Texas (AP)—What a start for Kevin Durant and the freshmen crew for No. 21 Texas.
Durant scored 20 points and No. 21 Texas’ highly touted class of newcomers got off to a roaring start Thursday night with a 103-44 win over Alcorn State in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Durant said after setting a Texas freshman debut scoring record. “It’s a little sample. I guess the fans can just sit back and watch.”
A.J. Abrams and Damion James each scored 13 points for the Longhorns, who trailed 9-1 before outscoring Alcorn State 47-9 over the rest of the first half in the regular-season opener for both teams.
Delvin Thompson led Alcorn State with 15 points. The Braves shot just 23 percent.
Texas lost all five starters from last season’s team that set a school record with 30 wins and made it to the Atlanta Regional final of the NCAA tournament.
Three underclassmen from that team—LaMarcus Aldridge, P.J. Tucker and Daniel Gibson—left school early for the NBA, leaving wispy guard Abrams as the leading returning scorer. Abrams averaged. 6.4 points last season.
The departures just created room for Durant, considered one of the top high school players in the country last season, and his new teammates in a seven-strong freshmen class rated among the best in college.
The Longhorns started three of them: forwards Durant and James and guard D.J. Augustin.
They started slow against the Braves and looked a bit nervous in the opening minutes. The Longhorns missed their first three shots and had three turnovers as Alcorn State took the early lead.
“Everybody was anxious. It was our first real game,” Augustin said. “After a while, we picked it up and played hard.”
They settled down when Durant started heating up with dunks and no-look passes that sparked a 19-0 run over an 8-minute span.
Durant, a 6-foot-9 forward, stepped out for a 3-pointer that made it 26-10 and the game quickly turned into a rout. Texas led 48-18 by halftime. Durant was 8-of-13 shooting for the game and had six rebounds.
“I just wanted to play good defense and get a good win in the first game. I would never want to lose in the debut,” Durant said.
The Longhorns had a clear size advantage in both height and bulk over the Braves. Texas shot 56 percent and no Alcorn State player had more than one basket in the first half.
“That was like a WWF wrestling match,” Alcorn State coach Sam West said. “They were much too strong, much too big for us.”
Texas opened the second with a 14-2 run, getting two 3-pointers each from Abrams and Durant that stretched the lead to 62-20.
Durant was the co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game last season and the Big 12 coaches voted him the preseason conference freshman of the year.
He likely would have gone to the NBA out of high school if not for the league’s minimum age requirement for the draft—he just turned 18 on Sept. 29— and is expected to consider leaving college after one season.
Texas coach Rick Barnes didn’t like everything he saw.
Early turnovers, lapses on defense and some bad shots left him reminding his young team about what they can do better.
“We’ve got to communicate a whole lot better than we did,” Barnes said. “We’re going to have to be able to turn this around quick and get ready.”
Texas will play Chicago State (1-0) in the second round of the tournament Friday night.