AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Add Myles Turner to the list of impressive debuts at Texas.
One of the top recruits in the country and the newcomer to a loaded Longhorns lineup, the freshman scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds as No. 10 Texas rolled to a leisurely 85-50 season-opening win over North Dakota State on Friday night.
”My teammates got me ready for this. They kept me amped up and positive all week,” Turner said after shooting 6 of 8 and showing off an array of skills with a smooth jump shot, a powerful dunk and two blocks.
Turner scored 11 in the first half as Texas jumped out to a 20-point lead by halftime.
Isaiah Taylor scored 18 points and Jonathan Holmes added 15 points for the Longhorns.
Texas has returned to having high expectations after a surprising 24-11 finish last season. The Longhorns returned all five starters and with the addition of the 6-foot-11 Turner are expected to challenge for the league title this season.
And coach Rick Barnes hasn’t been shy about cranking up the Longhorns’ profile, comparing this year’s squad to the one that reached the Final Four in 2003.
Turner is the latest top recruit corralled by Barnes and Texas fans hope he can have the same kind of impact T.J. Ford and Kevin Durant did when both claimed national player of the year awards. Turner started the game on the bench but quickly made an impact when he came in and scored on three straight possessions.
”Myles was very, very nervous before the game,” Barnes said. ”But he came in and responded well.”
Turner later started a fast break with a block and Taylor finished it with a behind-the-back pass to Cam Ridley for a dunk that made it 28-7. The only blemish on Turner’s debut was a team-high three turnovers.
”We know he’s gifted. He’s got to get back defensively,” Barnes said.
Holmes could have a huge impact for Texas this season as well. At 6-foot-8, he was one of Texas’ most consistent scorers last season, and has slimmed down and moved from power forward to small forward. Holmes made consecutive 3-pointers in the early minutes to show off his range.
Lawrence Alexander scored 16 for North Dakota State (0-1).
North Dakota State won the Summit league and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, but lost three starters and their muscle under the basket.
The Bison don’t have a player taller than 6-9 and struggled to match up with Holmes on the perimeter or Turner and Ridley inside. Ridley dunked a put-back for the game’s first points and the Longhorns’ size controlled everything the Bison tried to do, inside or out.
”We’re not going to see any teams that long or big in the Summit League,” Alexander said. ”With their length, size and depth coming off the bench, you can talk about it all day long, (but) playing against it as a whole other story.”
Texas: The Longhorns are ranked at the start of the season for the first time since the 2009-2010 season, when they were No. 3. Texas started 17-0 and rose to No. 1 that year before losing 10 of their final 17 games.
North Dakota State: The Bisons’ 51 percent shooting led the nation last season, but they were just 27 percent Friday night, including 21 percent in the first half as Texas bolted to a big lead. A.J. Jacobson had a particularly bad night, missing all 11 of his shot from the floor.
PYROTECHNICS: Texas jazzed up the show for the home crowd with a pre-game DJ, fireworks during team introductions and a dance party with about 100 fans on the court during a second-half timeout.
”The atmosphere was great. The DJ had the whole gym rocking. It was fun,” Taylor said.
Texas: Hosts Alcorn State on Sunday.
North Dakota: At Iowa on Monday.