On the day when the Moody Foundation donated $130 million to UT for a new basketball arena and the Longhorn football team defeated then-No. 16 ranked Kansas State, the men’s basketball team refused to be upstaged.
The donation set a very strong start to the day for the Longhorn athletic program and gives the planned stadium a new name: the Moody Center.
“This incredible gift by the Moody family and the Moody Foundation is an absolute game-changer,” men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart said. “It will positively impact our players, students, and fans for decades to come. Our entire program is tremendously grateful.”
While the gift was obviously generous, the team would go on to show how much they deserved the gift by beating the No. 23 Boilermakers on their home court.
Purdue reached the Elite Eight last season and also won the Big 10 Conference Tournament. The roster had a lot of returning talent — particularly on defense — as juniors Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern were among the carryovers from the previous year.
The Longhorns, by comparison, missed the 2019 NCAA tournament and were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 this season, despite winning the NIT Championship last year. Several players and the coaches are not concerned with the low ranking.
“If they want to sleep, then let them sleep,” sophomore guard Courtney Ramey said. “We can compete with anybody. We let a couple of games slip last year and we can grow from those games.”
The game was close the entire 40 minutes of play. Purdue would take a three-point lead into halftime, and would continue to lead deep into the game. The Longhorns were down by five points with 3:14 left on the clock after Purdue sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr. drained a pair of free throws.
However, the Longhorns would close out the game with a 13-4 run, led by junior point guard Matt Coleman and redshirt sophomore Andrew Jones, who combined for a 6-of-6 effort from the free throw line in the final 21 seconds.
“The attention to detail shows up whenever the game is really tight and it comes down to who can execute better,” junior guard Jase Febres said. “We’ve been preaching about details all summer and all three years I’ve been here, too.”
The win is reminiscent of last year’s upset over a highly-ranked University of North Carolina in Las Vegas, which gave Texas a strong boost to its resume before a slump to end the season kept them out of the NCAA tournament.
“This tells us we can be a really good team,” Smart said. “Purdue’s a very good basketball team. We were fortunate enough to come in here and win.”