INDIANAPOLIS — Joe Nice slowed his breath and calmed himself.
In essentially the most pressure-packed second of his school profession, the Abilene Christian junior ahead was excellent on two free throws from a spot the place he’d struggled up to now.
When he picked off a closing desperation move by Texas at midcourt, Nice and his teammates erupted in a celebration that almost spilled into the stands.
One other double-digit seed is transferring on within the NCAA Match, and this one on the expense of the flagship college in Abilene Christian’s residence state.
“We simply beat the College of Texas. Little ol’ Abilene Christian out in West Texas constructed a program that went toe-to-toe with the College of Texas and it’s an unimaginable story,” Wildcats coach Joe Golding mentioned. “It’s what March is about.”
Abilene Christian and its frantic, havoc-causing protection bounced coach Shaka Good and the Longhorns out of the NCAA Match within the first spherical but once more, because the 14th-seeded Wildcats surprised No. 3 seed Texas 53-52 on Saturday evening.
Nice, a 58.8% foul shooter on the season, made two from the road with 1.2 seconds left, and the Wildcats took down their in-state rivals within the first assembly between the colleges.
Pulling off one closing upset in a primary spherical crammed with two years’ value of pleasure, Abilene Christian (24-4) turned the fourth staff seeded thirteenth or decrease to achieve the spherical of 32 on this NCAA Match, becoming a member of Fifteenth-seeded Oral Roberts and No. 13 seeds Ohio and North Texas.
“We wanted March Insanity, man. We wanted some kind of normalcy to our nation,” Golding mentioned. “We wanted individuals to fill out brackets. We wanted individuals to cheer for the underdog.”
There was loads of cheering for the Wildcats by their followers clad in purple as they brought about all types of complications for the larger, extra proficient Longhorns and acquired simply sufficient offense to tug off their first NCAA Match victory of their second look.
Nice completed with 11 factors as did Coryon Mason for the Wildcats. Abilene Christian was blown out by Kentucky two years in the past when it made its first journey to the NCAAs.
Now, the Wildcats will face No. 11 seed UCLA within the second spherical Monday.
“I felt like two years in the past, we have been sort of pleased to be there as a first-time expertise,” Nice mentioned. “Then this staff, we’re able to tackle one other problem, not simply to be right here however to compete, to get some wins.”
Andrew Jones scored 13 factors for Texas (19-8) and was almost the hero. Jones hit two free throws with 56 seconds left and his 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining put the Longhorns in entrance 52-51.
ACU had yet another likelihood. Damien Daniels drove to the basket however his shot was blocked by Kai Jones. Nice was first to get his palms on the rebound and Matt Coleman III was known as for a foul, inflicting Good to drop to his knees on the sideline.
“It was a free ball. We each went for it. He acquired to the ball first and he threw it up they usually known as a foul on me. The ref known as foul so I suppose it was a foul,” Coleman mentioned.
After a timeout, Nice calmly hit each free throws. Then he intercepted a protracted move by Texas, turning it into the Longhorns’ twenty third turnover of the sport and setting off a wild celebration that carried all the way in which off the court docket.
Nice waved his arms towards the group, egging on followers to make some noise and cupping his hand to his ear earlier than being mobbed by teammates. Different gamers flexed towards ACU supporters within the stands of Lucas Oil Stadium that have been undoubtedly not socially distanced through the celebration.
“I used to be visualizing the free throws stepping into earlier than I shot them,” Nice mentioned. “I used to be simply making an attempt to key in on the rim, simply lock in and block out the noise.”
There have been heroes all through for the Wildcats. Daniels, all of 5-foot-7 and 140 kilos, missed his first eight shot makes an attempt however muscled by way of a foul to attain on a drive with 3:42 left. The three-point play gave the Wildcats a 50-47 lead. Reggie Miller made certainly one of two free throws to push the result in 4.
Texas went almost 4 minutes with out scoring earlier than two free throws by Jones with 56 seconds left — foul pictures that wanted a pause to scrub blood off the court docket.
Miller dedicated a turnover on ACU’s subsequent possession and Jones’ 3 appeared set to be an ideal March second after the Texas junior missed time earlier in his profession after being recognized with leukemia.
As an alternative, the Longhorns are headed residence with their third first-round exit beneath Good, which can solely increase the warmth on his standing in Austin.
“Quite a lot of tears within the locker room proper now,” Good mentioned. “Quite a lot of guys extraordinarily upset about the way in which the sport ended, the truth that we’ve got to go residence now. Actually dissatisfied, all people is.”
Texas was rolling coming into the NCAA Match after successful the Huge 12 Match for the primary time at school historical past. The Longhorns had gained 5 straight general and eight of 10 following a midseason droop.
However the Longhorns have been too careless and too impatient towards the Wildcats’ swarming protection.
It was ugly, bodily basketball, precisely the formulation for the Wildcats to tug off the upset. They’d the seventh-best scoring protection within the nation this season, giving up simply 60 factors per recreation, and led the nation in forcing turnovers. They smothered Nicholls State 79-45 within the Southland Convention title recreation.
Texas was held 23 factors under its season common. The 23 turnovers have been essentially the most for this system in eight years, and the Longhorns took 27 fewer pictures than ACU.
“It simply doesn’t really feel actual. I really feel like I’m making an attempt to get up from a nasty dream,” Coleman mentioned.
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