Texas guard Tyrese Hunter (4) shoots against Colorado State guard...

Texas guard Tyrese Hunter (4) shoots against Colorado State guard Joe Palmer (20) during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in that NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: AP/Mike Stewart

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Max Abmas and Dylan Disu each scored 12 points, and No. 7 seed Texas held Colorado State to 11 points in the first half en route to a 56-44 victory on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Longhorns (21-12) will meet the winner of second-seeded Tennessee and No. 15 St. Peter’s on Saturday.

Isaiah Stevens and Joel Scott paced the Rams (25-11) with 10 points each. The Rams shot 29% from the field.

Colorado State, which held Virginia to 14 first-half points in their First Four game on Tuesday, jumped out to an 8-2 lead before the wheels came off. The Rams missed 18 of their next 19 shots and scored just three points over the final 15 1/2 minutes of the first half.

Texas closed the half on a 25-3 run to take a 27-11 lead into the locker room after Abmas hit from downtown at the buzzer.

“We came out with the right intensity,” Abmas said. “We know they’re a really good offensive team. We know they’ve got Stevens, who is a really good, elite point guard in the country.”

Colorado State became only the 10th team in tournament history to score 11 points or less in the first half. The last time it happened was in 2008 when UNLV led Kent State 31-10 at halftime in a first-round game.

Texas forward Kadin Shedrick (5) loses the ball against Colorado...

Texas forward Kadin Shedrick (5) loses the ball against Colorado State guard Rashaan Mbemba (21) during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in that NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: AP/Mike Stewart

“They played tougher than us in the first half,” Scott said. “There’s not really much more to it. I think that kind of sums it up.”

Stevens said the Longhorns did a great job of being physical and pushing Colorado State players off their typical spots on the low block on the offensive end.

“We just can’t allow that to happen,” Stevens said.

The game was billed as a matchup of two of the nation’s top points guards in Abmas and Stevens, who competed against each other in high school in the Dallas area and went on to have highly productive five-year college careers combining for more than 5,400 points.

Texas guard Max Abmas (3) moves the ball against Colorado...

Texas guard Max Abmas (3) moves the ball against Colorado State during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in that NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2024, in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: AP/Mike Stewart

But both struggled, combining for five points on 2-of-16 shooting from the field in the first half.

When Stevens finally knocked down his first shot in the second half the crowd gave him a standing ovation and a Bronx cheer.

“I thought our guys did a really good job of trying to take Isaiah out,” Texas coach Rodney Terry said. “He’s really important to those guys. Last 10 seconds of the shot clock, we wanted somebody else to have to make a play. We didn’t want their post guys to get deep post.”

Disu said after the Longhorns lost to Kansas State in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament, they returned home to Austin and had two intense practices with the focus on defense.

“It was exactly what we needed,” Disu said. “Getting stops and competing against each other."

Despite the ugly first half, the Rams would battle back to cut the lead to six after Texas' Brock Cunningham was whistled for a flagrant one foul for an elbow to the head and Scott scored off a dish from Stevens with four minutes left.

But the Longhorns thwarted the rally and Chendall Weaver pushed the lead back to 12 when he scored on a driving layup and drew a foul for a three-point play.

BIG PICTURE

Colorado State: The Rams had won five of six games entering this one, but could not have imagined such a bad shooting day. They've made the NCAA Tournament two of the last three seasons, so the future is looking brighter.

Texas: Texas lost in the Elite Eight last season, but is eager to get back. The Longhorns will need to shoot the ball better to advance. They went 1 for 14 from deep against the Rams.

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