INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Joe Pleasant hit a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift Abilene Christian (24-4) to a 53-52 victory against No. 9/9 Texas in a NCAA Tournament First Round game at Lucas Oil Stadium late Saturday night. With the loss, the Longhorns conclude the 2020-21 season with a 19-8 overall record.
Redshirt junior guard Andrew Jones registered a team-high 13 points while converting 3-of-5 three-pointers and added a season-high five assists in 29 minutes. Senior forward Jericho Sims posted a double-double with 10 points (3-3 FG, 4-4 FT) and a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with three blocks, two steals and two assists in 32 minutes. Sophomore forward Kai Jones tallied 11 points (4-5 FG, 3-4 FT) and three blocks in 31 minutes.
The Longhorns were held to a season-low 52 points while committing a season-high 23 turnovers on the night. The Texas defense held ACU to 29.9-percent shooting (20-67), including a 3-of-18 (.167) mark from beyond the arc.
Both teams struggled to score the ball in the first half. Texas jumped out to a 10-4 lead following a Greg Brown three-pointer at the 15:20 mark. ACU responded with an 11-1 run over the next four minutes to build a 15-11 advantage after a Clay Gayman three-pointer with 11:05 remaining.
A Reggie Miller layup gave the Wildcats a 23-22 cushion at the 7:13 mark, but the Longhorns held ACU scoreless over the final 7:13 of the first half and took a 28-23 lead into the break. UT held the Wildcats to 30.3-percent shooting (10-33), including a 2-of-8 mark from three-point range, in the opening 20 minutes.
Kai Jones hit back-to-back shots to give the Longhorns a 32-23 advantage with 19:13 remaining. Trailing 36-32 after a pair of Sims free throws at the 16:05 mark, the Wildcats used a 9-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 41-36 lead following a Pleasant jumper with 11:10 left.
Texas fought back and grabbed a 47-45 advantage after a Matt Coleman III three-pointer at the 4:53 mark. ACU responded by scoring six straight points over the next three-plus minutes to build a 51-47 cushion following a Reggie Miller free throw with 1:19 left. Andrew Jones hit a pair of free throws and then drained a three-pointer in front of the UT bench to give the Longhorns a 52-51 lead with 13.8 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Kai Jones blocked a Damien Daniels shot, but Pleasant grabbed the offensive rebound for the Wildcats and was fouled with 1.8 seconds left. Pleasant hit both free throws to seal the victory for ACU.
Texas ends the 2020-21 season ranked No. 9 in the final AP poll, the first appearance in the final AP poll since the Longhorns were No. 8 in the 2010-11 season. UT posted seven wins against AP ranked opponents, just one shy of the school’s single-season record. The Longhorns also won the prestigious Camping World Maui Invitational and captured the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship for the first time in program history.
Texas Basketball Postgame Notes
NCAA Tournament First Round
Abilene Christian 53, #9/9 Texas 52
March 20, 2021
Lucas Oil Stadium – Unity Court (Indianapolis, Ind.)
- Texas fell to 35-38 overall in 35 NCAA Tournament appearances.
- Since the NCAA expanded the tourney field to 64 teams in 1985, the Longhorns are now 17-10 in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament.
- UT is one of just eight schools to appear in 19 of the last 22 NCAA tourneys and one of six schools to appear in at least 27 of the last 32 NCAA tourneys.
- Texas set a team season high in blocked shots (9), previous: 7, twice
- UT held Abilene Christian to 29.9-percent shooting (20-67), including a 3-of-18 (.167) mark from three-point range, on the evening.
- The Longhorns set a team season low in points scored (52), previous: 59 at Texas Tech (Feb. 27)
- UT also set a team season low in field goal attempts (40), previous: 49 at Texas Tech (Feb. 27)
- Texas set a team season high in turnovers (23), previous: 21 at Oklahoma State (Feb. 6)
- UT fell to 11-3 in games away from Austin this year, including a 5-1 mark in neutral-site contests.
- Texas fell to 7-4 in games decided by three points or less this season.
- The Longhorns held Abilene Christian to 23 points on 30.3-percent shooting (10-33), including a 2-of-8 (.250) mark from three-point range, in the opening half.
- Texas held ACU scoreless over the final 7:13 of the first half (trailed 23-22, led 28-23 at the break).
- UT had 10 assists on 10 made field goals in the opening half.
- Tied his career high in blocked shots (2) in 10 minutes
- Grabbed 5 rebounds (2 offensive) in just 6:15 of playing time
- Posted a team-high 4 rebounds in 3 minutes of action in the first half
- Reached double figures in scoring (team-high 13 points) for the 21st time this year (26 games) and 65th time in his career (102 games)
- Set a season high in assists (5)
- Reached double figures in scoring (11 points) for the 13th time this year (26 games) and 15th time in his career (53 games)
- Set a season high in blocked shots (3)
- Registered a team-best plus-minus total of plus-11 in 31 minutes
- Registered a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) for the fifth time this season (26 games) and ninth time in his career (119 games)
- Marked his fourth double-double in the last five games
- Reached double figures in scoring for the 14th time this year and 35th time in his career
- Reached double digits in rebounds for the sixth time this season and 16th time in his career
- Tied his season high in assists (2)