Texas makes history, advances to Elite 8 with comprehensive 83-71 win over Xavier

Matthew Caldwell, Associate Sports Editor

With a trip to the Elite 8 against Miami on the line, No. 2-seed Texas took down No. 3-seed Xavier on Friday night in Kansas City.

“I’m proud of my guys and how they came out and really put their will into this game from start to finish,” interim head coach Rodney Terry said. “It was a really good team win from us tonight.”

Looking to make history, freshman forward Dillon Mitchell won the tip and the Longhorns got off to an electric start, taking an early 6-0 lead.

Proceedings quickly took a turn for the worse though as Texas’ best player throughout the tournament, senior forward Dylan Disu, had to come out of the game early and came back to the bench with a boot on his left foot. He would be quickly declared out for the remainder of the game.

“We’ve had that next man up mentality,” Marcus Carr said after the game. “We just really wanted to play for (Disu).”

To make matters worse, graduate guard and Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Sir’Jabari Rice picked up two early fouls and was forced to return to the bench.

“Foul trouble, an injured guy, you just keep playing and keep working the game for 40 minutes,” Terry said.

Despite this, Texas looked ready to blow the game open early after taking a nine point lead, but the Musketeers steadied themselves and forced Terry into an early timeout with the score 14-10 in favor of Texas.

Carr got the Longhorns back on track, doing almost everything in a whirlwind display of perimeter dominance. The Toronto-born graduate guard had 11 points while also notching three assists including an alley-oop to graduate forward Christian Bishop that forced Xavier into a timeout.

The timeout didn’t do the Musketeers much good, as Texas kept its foot on the gas, bringing the lead to 16 points.

With a tribute to Carr’s halftime buzzer-beater in last year’s tournament against Virginia Tech, senior forward Timmy Allen gave Texas its biggest lead with a jaw dropping halfcourt heave that beat the buzzer.

Led by Carr who had a game-high 15 points, the Longhorns went into the break up 42-25.

The second half got underway with Texas 20 minutes away from its first Elite 8 appearance since 2008.

Sophomore guard Tyrese Hunter kept the Longhorns up while Xavier was able to earn a bunch of points from the free-throw line. Hunter scored nine of Texas’ first 11 points in the second half while Carr was on the bench with his three fouls.

The second half in Kansas City turned into the Tyrese Hunter show as he drilled another three-pointer, giving Texas its biggest lead of the game at 20 with 11:57 to play.

The remainder of the game was never in question and the Longhorns were able to advance in convincing fashion, 83-71, with the Horns leading wire to wire.

Texas had five scorers in double figures, most notably Carr, Hunter, Rice and Bishop, all of whom scored 16 or more.

Although history was officially made, there is still work to be done. Texas will take on No. 5-seed Miami on Sunday for the opportunity to go to Houston for the Final Four.

“We know we’ll have our hands full with a really good Miami ball club,” Terry said.