The No. 2-seed Texas Longhorns advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season with a convincing 81-61 win over the No. 15-seed Colgate Raiders on Thursday in Des Moines.
Against the nation’s best three-point shooting team, Texas beat Colgate by raining threes of their own, tying the season high with 13 made threes, including a career-high seven from guard Sir’Jabari Rice, who scored a game-high 23 points while adding six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Guard Marcus Carr also got on track offensively, hitting 4-of-6 threes and scoring 17 points.
The veteran Longhorns came into the game intent on running the Raiders off the three-point line and avoiding defensive rotations to force Colgate into one-on-one plays offensively, The gameplan and its execution were sound, as Texas wanted to hold Colgate to six or fewer threes, more than two under their season average, and only gave up three on 15 attempts (20 percent) — season lows in percentage and quantity — while allowing only six assists, more than 12 under the season average for the Raiders.
The concession was allowing the bigs for Colgate to operate in the post without double teams, leading to a 38-32 advantage in paints in the paint for the Raiders and 18 layups, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Longhorns from opening up a big lead in the first half and doing enough to keep Colgate from ever having too much hope — the Raiders never got closer than seven points after halftime and that was early in the second half on two occasions.
In shooting 53.4 percent from the floor, Texas took advantage of its athleticism, particularly that of forward Dylan Disu, who turned in another impressive performance with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds and a block. Disu dealt with foul trouble in the first half, but ultimately finished plus-20, second on the team behind Carr, who was plus-24 despite five turnovers, all in the second half. The Horns also had a 10-4 margin in fast-break points.
In an echo of the Big 12 Tournament, Disu opened the scoring for Texas with two baskets, although it took nearly three minutes of game time and came after Colgate took a 4-0 lead. A three by guard Tyrese Hunter made it a 7-0 run for the Horns broken by the first three to fall for the Raiders.
A steal by forward Christian Bishop produced the first fast-break points of the game, a layup for Hunter, and another steal by Carr led to a three-point play in transition, then a three in the halfcourt, a confidence-boosting shot for a player who struggled from beyond the arc in the six games prior to the tournament.
Out of the under-12 timeout, Rice hit four threes — tying his season high — while flashing his playmaking by finding Disu on a pick and roll for a layup. The Horns started 7-of-9 shooting from three-point range when Carr hit his second in transition to force a timeout by the Raiders with the margin at 32-18 with 7:48 remaining.
Rice managed to impact the game further by forcing a turnover on Colgate’s ensuing possession to send the game into the media timeout before matching his career high with a fifth three on a drive and kick started by Carr for a 14-1 run.
He’s on his 5th 3-pointer now.— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) March 17, 2023
5ir’Jabari Rice has 17 points so far against Colgate. pic.twitter.com/9xRKuKM01v
The Raiders finally broke a stretch of more than five minutes without a field goal with two layups sandwiched around a turnover by the Longhorns to stem the Texas momentum, one of three during a brief scoring drought for the No. 2 seed as Colgate went to a zone defense. Bishop got a shot to fall in the lane before the under-four timeout to push the margin back to 15 points.
But when Colgate went on a 10-2 run that included six straight points out of the media break, it was Texas acting head coach Rodney Terry forced to call a timeout with the lead down to nine points and misses on five of the previous six shots for the Longhorns. When Rice missed his first three-point attempt, the Raiders got a mismatch against him down in the paint and produced another layup.
Two free throws by Bishop helped the ailing Texas offense and blocked a shot on the other end before finding Allen on a cut for a layup. Two free throws by Colgate cut the margin into single digits again heading into halftime, a win for the Raiders given the 17-point margin they faced with 7:14 remaining.
Colgate scored on its first two possessions, but so did Texas with Disu working the middle of the 2-3 zone for a push shot and Carr hitting a three on a skip pass. A dunk by Disu on a dish from Allen and a three by Hunter helped the Horns keep pace with the Raiders, who were scoring at will in the paint with four layups to open the second half.
Into the game for the first time after halftime, Rice promptly hit his sixth three late in the shot clock, but the Raiders hit three straight shots to cut the deficit into single digits again on their third three of the game. Carr and Rice responded with back-to-back threes in quick success as the lead ballooned back up to 15 points and forced a timeout by Colgate.
A layup by Bishop on a feed from Rice made it an 8-0 run for Texas and a lob dunk from Hunter to Bishop kept the margin at 15 points before an up-and-down sequence that featured 6’11, 270-pound Colgate forward Jeff Woodward leveling Carr going for a loose ball.
Turnover issues plagued Texas as Colgate went on a 10-2 with five over four minutes and five by Carr himself in the second half as the Raiders reduced the margin to single digits again with 7:56 remaining when it was Terry who had to call a timeout.
Disu settled the Horns out of the break with a push shot and Carr came back into the game hitting a step-back jumper. Taking advantage of the slower Woodward, Disu continued his strong play by driving to the basket and finishing through contact for a three-point play and a 14-point lead.
A shot-clock violation by Colgat and a layup by Cunningham on a sweet pocket pass by Rice made it a 16-point game with under three minutes remaining, essentially putting the game out of reach for the Raiders when Carr blocked a shot and Rice used his shot credibility to produce a layup.
Texas will face the No. 10-seed Penn State on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. Central on CBS.