Jonathan Holmes scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Longhorns, who took the lead for good on Isaiah Taylor's fast-break layup off a block and rebound from Prince Ibeh. Taylor took on Jaguar guard Barrington Stevens in the open court, then slid the ball off the glass and through the bucket before a backside defender could block the shot.
"When Prince gave me the ball, I just saw one defender in front of me," Taylor said. "When I see one defender in front of me, I think 'attack.'"
Texas raised the lead to three on a Demarcus Holland free throw, then to five when South Alabama was hit with a goaltending call on a Javan Felix jumper. Holmes then iced the game with two free throws with three seconds left.
"I think the game changed when our attitude changed," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "I thought we were very lethargic. I just don't think we were ready at the start of the game."
Texas trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, which saw South Alabama hit 10-of-21 three-pointers. And the Longhorns entered the locker room at halftime down 45-31.
"First of all, I tell them the truth … that at the start of the game, we weren't ready to play," Barnes said of his halftime message. "I just said, you guys will do what we practice. And I thought a big key [was] we came out and we actually did have a much better effort defensively to start the second half. And on offense, we definitely, what you saw in the second half, that's what we practice. That's how we have practiced."
Holmes scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half, as the Longhorns made their comeback. And despite the fact that he reiterated after the game that he spent most of his offseason working on his 15-feet-and-in game, Holmes once again had a nice night from behind the arc, hitting 4-of-7 threes. That puts him at 6-of-10 through the first two games.
"He's outstanding," said South Alabama coach Matthew Graves. "I like the energy that he plays with, and for a kid his size to be able to step out on the floor, catch and shoot three's, he would be a great player in our system and the way we like to spread the floor. His ability to rip and drive the basketball with his right hand is outstanding. He is an outstanding player ... very impressed."
Preseason Sun Belt Player of the Year Augustine Rubit led the Jaguars in both scoring (22 points) and rebounding (eight boards). Mychal Ammons (16), Stevens (12) and Antoine Allen (12) also scored in double figures.
"We just didn't want this to turn into some of the stuff that happened last year where we came out flat and it carried into the second half also," Holmes said.
Texas (2-0) handed South Alabama (1-1) its first loss of the year. The Longhorns will host Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m. on Friday.