‘We’re not looking past anybody’: No. 2-seed Texas focused on No. 15-seed Colgate, avoiding early upset


Assad Malik/The Daily Texan

Junior Forward, Brock Cunningham, attempts a 3 point shot while being blocked by a Baylor basketball player. Texas played Baylor at Ferrell Stadium on February 12th, 2022.

Mantra Dave, Managing Editor

As Big 12 Tournament champions, Texas men’s basketball enters March Madness with a No. 2-seed and high expectations. The Horns aren’t letting themselves think too far ahead though, with single-minded focus on their first round opponent, No. 15-seed Colgate.

“Wow, we have a tough matchup with Colgate,” interim head coach Rodney Terry said. “We are going to have to bring our A-game against a well coached team.”

Both Texas and Colgate earned automatic qualifier bids into the NCAA Tournament after winning their respective conference tournaments. Colgate comes into the NCAA Tournament at 26-8 after winning both the regular season and postseason crown in the Patriot League. Though the Big 12 rates as the nation’s best conference, while the Patriot League is the fifth-worst Division I conference, per KenPom, the Horns are aware of the danger Colgate poses.

“We understand how good Colgate is and we’re preparing for them just like we would prepare for any other Big 12 team,” graduate guard Marcus Carr said.

Colgate romped through conference play with a 17-1 mark, largely on the back of their perimeter presence. The Raiders shoot 40.9% from behind the arc, which leads the nation.

“As far as Colgate, they’re the best shooting team in the country,” Carr said. “(We) definitely respect their ability to shoot the ball, and we’re going to have to adjust our defense to that.”

Texas’ defense-first mindset, which the Horns have stressed all season, will be vital against a Colgate outfit that aims to push the pace and space the floor. Rodney Terry’s outfit will aim to use its length and athleticism to deny Colgate open shooting opportunities.

“We’re going to have to do a great job of defending the 3-point line and keep these guys off the glass,” Terry said. “(We need to) have a really good urgency to get back on defense because they play with a great pace of play on offense as well.”

Colgate will be eager to win its first NCAA tournament game in school history after coming close to taking down No. 3-seeds Arkansas and Wisconsin in the last couple of years. As a significant underdog, the Raiders have little to lose on the national stage, which makes them a dangerous opponent.

“I think our guys (understood) when they signed up to play at Texas that they were going to get everybody’s best game,” Terry said.

Texas is no stranger to first-round tournament upsets: in 2021, Shaka Smart’s Big 12 Tournament champions were upset by No. 14-seed Abilene Christian as a No. 3-seed. Graduate forward Brock Cunningham is the sole player left from that roster and believes that this year’s outfit is better equipped to avoid such disappointment.

“(In 2021), we won the Big 12 Tournament that year and then thought we couldn’t be touched,” Cunningham said. “This year (after) winning the Big 12 Tournament, … we spoke about the importance of living in the moment.”

The Horns are attempting to navigate the NCAA Tournament one step at a time. Their journey starts on Thursday at 6:25 p.m. against the Raiders in Des Moines.

“We have big goals in mind and we know that starts with Colgate,” senior forward Timmy Allen said.