Texas looks to ride momentum vs. Abilene Christian

·3 min read

Texas brings plenty of swagger built from its first-ever Big 12 tournament championship into its matchup with Abilene Christian in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Indianapolis.

The third-seeded Longhorns (19-7) should not overlook the 14th-seeded Wildcats (23-4), the Southland Conference tournament champions.

Since the NCAA moved to a 64-team field beginning in 1985, this marks the fifth time that the Longhorns have been a No. 3 seed or better and first since 2008.

Texas posted a 91-86 win over No. 12 Oklahoma State last Saturday in the Big 12 tournament title game. Matt Coleman III registered a career-high 30 points and Jericho Sims added a career-best 21 points and 14 rebounds to pace the Longhorns' attack.

Texas enters the NCAA Tournament on a five-game win streak, with all five victories coming in either true road games or neutral-site contests.

Three of the five wins in the current stretch have come against ranked opponents. Texas has registered a total of seven wins against Associated Press Top 25 opponents this season.

All the success would mean little if the Longhorns stumble now.

"People are on kind of high right now as it relates to emotion," Texas coach Shaka Smart said. "It's important for us to process the game from (Saturday) night, move forward and understand that we are in here in Indy now and we do have a new mission, a new goal.

"The first thing is just gaining a level of respect for the opponent. For us to be at our best, we've got to do A, B and C. The teams that advance here are going to do that."

Abilene Christian swamped top-seed Nichols 79-45 in the Southland Conference tournament title game on Saturday. The Wildcats received 13 points each from Damien Daniels and Joe Pleasant, and 11 points and 10 rebounds from Reggie Miller in the victory.

"This group has been special from the start," Abilene Christian coach Joe Golding said. "We have dudes that work hard. They let us coach them really, really hard, and we love on them harder off the floor. We've got something unique going here, and it's a lot of fun to be a part of.

The Wildcats, who have won four games in a row and 12 of their past 13, finished second in the Southland Conference regular season. Abilene Christian has appeared in the NCAA Tournament once before, in 2019, when it lost to Kentucky 79-44.

Golding knows his team will be hard-pressed to stay with Texas, and that the odds are against him as far as NCAA Tournament history goes.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to do this with everything going on," Golding added. "So, this will be something these kids will be able to look back on when it's talked about and say they were a part of."

--Field Level Media