AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas forward Dexter Pittman fondly remembers the late Pete Newell's kind words.
"He told me I was a beast," Pittman said.
For a 6-foot-10, 300-pound basketball player trying to use his body to his best advantage against smaller opponents, it was a huge compliment from one of the game's greatest tutors.
Pittman lived up to Newell's words Tuesday night, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds in 15 minutes as Texas (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) cruised to a 76-51 win over Tulane. It was Pittman's second career start and his first since attending Newell's camp for big men in Las Vegas last summer.
Pittman said Newell, who died Monday, had him on the court early every morning that week. Newell spoke to him often, rattling off the names of the Hall of Fame players who had learned from the Hall of Fame coach.
"He told me I was one of the biggest big men he had ever had through the camp," Pittman said. "He was a nice guy."
Texas also used a stellar defensive effort to turn the game into a rout by halftime. The Longhorns had 16 steals and forced 25 turnovers, while holding Tulane to 31 percent shooting overall.
Kevin Sims scored 11 points to lead Tulane (1-1), which trailed by as many as 37 points in the second half.
"They saw we couldn't handle the pressure," Tulane coach Dave Dickerson said. "We couldn't rebound tonight, we couldn't pass tonight. Whenever you can't pass and catch, it's tough."
Texas coach Rick Barnes promised he would use a big lineup this season and Pittman had promised he could be a much more effective player than his first two years when he struggled with his weight and conditioning.
Pittman had started to come on strong for Texas in the NCAA tournament last season. Against Tulane, he showed off improved footwork and passing and quicker moves to the basket. He even dished an assist with a nifty bounce pass to Connor Atchley for a layup in the first half. He likely would have played more than 15 minutes if he didn't pick up four fouls.
Pittman said Newell told him to keep improving his feel for where a defender is without looking at him. When told of Newell's death on Monday, "it was kind of shocking," Pittman said.
James said the Longhorns are counting on Pittman to be a force in the post all season.
"When Dexter gets the ball inside, he's going to score," James said. "For us to be where we want to be, Dexter's got to help us a lot."
Balbay sat out last season after a knee injury and while serving an NCAA suspension for playing for a professional club as a youth in his native Turkey. The suspension forced him to miss Texas' season-opening win over Stetson.
Balbay entered the game against Tulane with about 13 minutes left in the first half and quickly contributed a layup and had one of Texas' eight steals in the first half. He also had a couple of blown layups in the second half.
"I was really happy for Dogus," Barnes said. "For his first time in, he really came with a pit-bull attitude."
Abrams had 10 points with two 3-pointers as Texas built a 42-25 halftime lead. Texas led 15-10 before Balbay's layup started a 16-4 run that opened up a double-digit lead.
Texas opened the second half with two dunks. The first came when Abrams pulled up for a 3-pointer, then rifled a pass to Pittman under the basket. James followed it with a steal and fastbreak slam that put Texas up by 21 before three more steals ended in more Texas baskets.
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