Three point shooting, Sir’Jabari Rice key as No. 2-seed Texas defeats No. 15-seed Colgate, 81-61

Mantra Dave, Managing Editor

Rodney Terry starts every practice by reminding his team that it’s a great day to be alive. On Thursday, it was an especially great day for Texas men’s basketball to remain alive as the Horns moved past Colgate 81-61 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Colgate came into the NCAA Tournament as the nation’s most accurate 3-point shooting team, but it was Texas that dominated from beyond the arc in Des Moines. 

The Horns shot 56.5% from three, paced by Sir’Jabari Rice who hit seven of Texas’ 13 threes and led all scorers with 23 points.

“Rice (is) as good of a basketball player as I’ve seen all year,” Colgate head coach Matt Langel said. 

When preparing for the game, Texas emphasized the importance of pushing Colgate off the 3-point line and restricting open looks.

The Horns did just that, using their length on the perimeter to restrict open looks, which helped keep Colgate to 20.0% from three.

“They denied and tried to blow up a lot of our actions and (made) it really difficult,” said senior guard Oliver Lynch-Daniels, who led Division I in three-point percentage. 

After Texas got off to a slow start to the game, missing six of its first ten field goal attempts, graduate guard Carr converted an and-one at the basket and hit a contested three to get the Horns going. 

Des Moines then became the site of the Sir’Jabari Rice show, as the graduate guard hit four 3-pointers in a three minute span to launch a 20-6 Texas run midway through the first half.

The Raiders responded with an 8-0 run of their own through senior forwards Jeff Woodward and Ryan Moffatt who converted in the paint against smaller Texas defenders. Texas missed seven of its last eight shots before halftime, while Colgate hit five of its last six to cut the Horns lead to nine.

The second half began resembling the first, with Texas getting three-pointers from Carr, Hunter and Rice while Colgate took advantage of mismatches down low. 

Though Texas led by as many as 17 in the middle of the second half, every time the Horns went on a run, Colgate slowed them down and prevented the game from getting out of reach.

Colgate was unable to cut the deficit to less than seven, with various Texas players stepping up to provide the Horns breathing room.

“It was a different guy every time,” Langel said. “They were poised … They’re veteran guys and I was really impressed with their resolve.” 

Texas will play the winner of No. 7-seed Texas A&M and No. 10-seed Penn State in Des Moines on Saturday.

As always, it’s one step at a time with Rodney Terry’s Horns. Regardless of whether a fan favorite Texas-Texas A&M matchup materializes for the first time since 2019, the Horns have a singular focus.

“We’re going to do what we have been doing all season long,” Terry said. “Prepare for another good opponent and be excited to compete at a high level for 40 minutes.”