UT men’s basketball players celebrate a victory with their coach as he’s interviewed following their second round victory last weekend. Photo: Jamie Sabau/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
After years of underwhelming post-season play, the Longhorns men’s basketball team is poised to do something really special in this March Madness tournament.
Driving the news: Friday’s matchup against Xavier marks Texas’ first Sweet 16 game since 2008.
Catch up quick: This has been a rollercoaster year for the Longhorns.
- After being charged with a domestic violence felony, head coach Chris Beard was suspended in December and then fired. (The charges were subsequently dropped and he was hired at Ole Miss earlier this month.)
- Interim head coach Rodney Terry might have earned himself a full-time contract by steering the team to a pair of March Madness victories last weekend, after winning the Big 12 Tournament.
The intrigue: Basketball watchers are wondering why Terry, who would be the school’s second Black full-time men’s basketball head coach, has not yet been offered the big job.
- “Lack of class by Texas athletic board,” college basketball commentator Dick Vitale tweeted this week. “I can buy waiting until the end of the regular season on the status of Rodney Terry. However after winning the Big 12 conference title, he deserved a multi-year deal.”
- The American-Statesman reported Wednesday Penn State and the University of California-Berkeley are interested in hiring Terry, who had served as an assistant under Beard.
The big picture: The Longhorns, seeded second in their corner of the bracket, have experience — including seven returning players from last season — and a ton of talent.
- Big man Dylan Disu, a product of Pflugerville’s Hendrickson High, scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a scrappy victory over the weekend against Penn State — and he’s not usually one of the team’s top scorers.
What they’re saying: “It starts with habits we build daily and the league we play in,” Disu said after the victory, referring to the Big 12. “We’ve been battle-tested.”
What we’re watching: Whether UT, favored by four points over Xavier, can make things easy for themselves and shoot well from 3-point land.
- UT went just 1-13 from downtown against Penn State.
How to watch: The game will tip on CBS at 8:45pm. The victor takes on the winner of Houston and Miami.
- And if UT can make it to the Final Four next weekend in Houston, it will surely enjoy the feel of a home court advantage.
The bottom line: “This has been a very resilient group all year long,” Terry said at a post-game news conference after the Longhorns outlasted Penn State. “They have a will to not lose. They’re a very, very connected group and they’ve been incredibly unselfish all year long.”