Delaware News

Xavier can’t solve Texas defense in 83-71 loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rodney Terry is stopped on his way to the Texas locker room after his team knocked out Xavier for a spot in the Elite Eight, with the interim coach granting a fan’s wish to have a photo by showing it too -Familiar “Hook ’em Horns” sign.

“Go get that job, coach!” the grateful fan yelled at him.

A few more wins and the people of Texas may not have a choice.

The longtime assistant made his boldest statement yet for the full-time gig, guiding the Longhorns without sick big man Dylan Disu to an 83-71 win over the Musketeers on Friday night. Tyrese Hunter scored 19 points, and Marcus Carr and Christian Bishop added 18 apiece, to move second-seeded Texas into a Final Four game for the first time in 15 years.

“I thought we played one of our best defensive games tonight that we’ve played all year,” said Terry, who took over in December when Chris Beard was suspended and ultimately fired at the following allegations of domestic violence.

“Proud of my guys and how they put their will into this game from start to finish.”

Disu, who dominated the first two games of the tournament, injured his foot in a second-round win over Penn State. He received treatment all week, and the Longhorns managed to keep it a secret until the announcement, when the big man only played a few minutes, then limped off the floor and headed straight for the cloakrooms.

When he returned to the bench, he was wearing a chunky walking boot, a black hoodie and a grim expression.

“It will be day to day right now,” Terry said. “We have had the best in the industry work with us.”

Still, the Longhorns already had a tough job ahead of No. 5 seed Miami on Sunday night, especially given how the Hurricanes pulled off an 89-75 win over Houston. The possibility of playing without Disu, who led the Longhorns to a Big 12 Tournament title and earned MVP honors on the same floor just two weeks ago, only makes things more difficult.

“We knew before the game that we wouldn’t have Dylan for the whole game,” Carr said. “We just really wanted to play for him. We knew how much it would mean to him. We got emotional in there knowing he wouldn’t be there.

Relegated to a 6-foot-9 cheerleader on Friday night, Disu at least had something to celebrate.

Sir’Jabari Rice scored 16 points and Timmy Allen added 11 for the Longhorns (29-8). The highest-ranked team remaining in the tournament controlled perimeter threats from Souley Boum and Xavier while making life miserable for Jack Nunge.

Adam Kunkel hit five 3-pointers and led the third-seeded Musketeers (27-10) with 21 points. Nunge scored 15 points but needed 19 shots to get there, while Colby Jones also had 15 points. Boom didn’t score any baskets before the start of the second period and finished with 12.

“They were better than us,” Xavier’s coach Sean Miller said. “We struggled a lot to manage our offense and that’s a testament to their defensiveness as we’ve been able to score almost every game we’ve played this year.”

It was Texas who scored at will, however, and Carr who threw them. He spun across the lane like a Tilt-A-Whirl for hard rimmed buckets, and even knocked down a spinning Desperation 3 as the shot clock expired. And when Miller traded man-to-man defense for a zone, the Longhorns started tossing the ball to Bishop in the paint.

With dozens of family and friends on hand, Creighton’s transfer from suburban Kansas City to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, got to work. Bishop threw a dunk to Carr’s alley-oop lob, then slammed another a few minutes later.

By the time Allen conceded a half-court, the Longhorns had established a 42-25 advantage at halftime – and had to be redirected from the Xavier Tunnel, where they were busy celebrating, to their own locker room.

“Their pressure is something you can’t really fake until you’re in the game against them. Their tenacity, their experience,” Miller said. “And then offensively, they have a great guard game, and you feel that as well.”

Xavier tried to back down a few times, but the Longhorns never let their heads sniff at single digits. And it gave Terry, who returned to Texas after leadership roles at Fresno State and UTEP, a chance to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

The 54-year-old from the small Texas town of Angleton was part of Rick Barnes’ squad the last time the Longhorns reached the Elite Eight, in 2008. He was part of the 2003 squad that took them guided to the Final Four, too.

Now, he’s about to take Texas on a most unlikely journey to college basketball’s biggest stage.

“Keep wanting more. I mean, every round – don’t be satisfied,” Terry said. “We’re going to take this victory for one night, like we’ve been doing all year, and we’re going to move on to the next challenge and very quickly against a very good Miami team.”


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