Texas is delivering, and it’s having fun along the way

Christina Huang, Sports Editor

While Texas has had its fair share of trouble this season, you wouldn’t know based on its performance against Xavier on Friday night. With the way that Texas played in the Sweet 16, you wouldn’t know that the Longhorns were without one of their key starters in Dylan Disu.

Texas stifled Xavier, 83-71, to nab its first Elite Eight berth since 2008. The Longhorns had five players score in double digits, with sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter leading the pack with 19 points.

Texas capped off the first half with an improbable 3-point shot from forward Timmy Allen, who had only made two 3-pointers all-season coming into Friday’s game.

“I got the rebound, and Brock (Cunningham) said ‘Go!’ because I was initially looking to pass it,” Allen said in the locker room after the game with a smile on his face. 

He even described the Hail Mary shot as less of an executed shot, but more of a “flick of the wrist.” 

The Longhorns haven’t been this far in the tournament in well over a decade, but this team is finding joy in the execution as they go deeper into uncharted territory. 

After Friday night’s win, the singing of Texas players echoed through the halls of the T-Mobile Center. Allen sheepishly admitted to being the main vocalist in that group the next day. 

“It was (me),” Allen said on Sunday. “But it wasn’t serious.” 

But some of the Texas guards had another perspective, with graduate guard Sir’Jabari Rice saying that Allen’s singing was “definitely serious.”

“For those of you who don’t know,” Texas’ leading scorer Marcus Carr began jokingly, “Timmy (Allen) is an aspiring R&B artist. We’re working on getting him some studio time, and we’ll see what he cooks up.”

After a long season of offcourt drama fueled by Chris Beard’s firing, this Texas team is looser than ever. Somehow, someway, the Longhorns have found their path to being one of the last eight teams left in the NCAA tournament.

“I think it goes back to our age and the veterans we have on the team,” graduate forward Brock Cunningham said. “There’s guys in this room that have lived a lot outside of basketball and played a lot of basketball as well. We go down against Penn State a couple points, some teams would freeze up and the moment would be too big, but we’ve got big-time players that are able to get the game back.”

In its last three NCAA tournament appearances, Texas only made it as far as the round of 32. Cunningham was even part of the 2020-2021 roster that was upset by Abilene Christian in the round of 64 and subsequently bounced from the tournament as a No. 3-seed.

But now, Texas is deeper in the tournament than it has been since 2008, and the team seems to be having the most fun it’s had all season. 

While Texas will have quite the challenge on Sunday night against Miami, one of the ACC’s best teams, it is enjoying its wave of recent success and appreciating the fact that it earned the right to play another game.