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No. 2-seed Texas stomps No. 3-seed Xavier, 83-71, in cathartic win

The Longhorns are headed to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional-Xavier vs Texas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the two chalk matchups of the Sweet 16, the No. 2-seed Texas Longhorns ran the No. 3-seed Xavier Musketeers off the court in Kansas City, taking a 17-point lead at halftime and making it stand in the second half of an 83-71 victory to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008.

Guard Tyrese Hunter provided a huge boost for the Longhorns with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including all three three-point attempts. Four other Texas players scored in double digits in a balanced effort — guard Marcus Carr notched 18 points with five assists, forward Christian Bishop came off the bench to score 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds, and guard Sir’Jabari Rice battled through first-half foul trouble to score 16 points. Forward Timmy Allen added 11 points while providing stifling defense.

Texas shot 52.5 percent from the floor overall, as well as 58.3 percent from three-point range, producing a 40-28 advantage in points in the paint and a 35-5 margin in points off the bench in a dominant performance against one of the best offensive teams in the country.

Minutes after the Longhorns became the highest-seeded team remaining in the NCAA Tournament, the news broke that Dylan Disu is dealing with a foot bone bruise. After getting poked in the eye within the first several minutes, Disu left the court to return to the locker room after aggravating his foot injury, a huge loss for Texas that ultimately didn’t impact the outcome.

Along with two early fouls on Rice, the Longhorns dealt with some adversity early, but also benefited from missed shots by the Musketeers, who started 1-of-9 shooting from the field with three missed layups. Texas was more efficient early, getting two baskets apiece from Carr and Allen, as well as a reverse layup from Bishop in relief of Disu.

Xavier eventually missed 12 of its first 13 shots before hitting a three and getting a layup in transition to cut the Texas lead to 14-10 and force a timeout by Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry after several empty possessions.

In the ensuing stretch, the Horns were able to hold their own, getting a flukey three from Carr on a scramble situation late in the shot clock and a finger roll from Bishop to take an eight-point lead. A steal by Texas and two baskets by Rice at the rim, the first in transition, extended the lead before Bishop threw down an alley-oop dunk from Carr, who then hit a step-back jumper for a 14-point lead as the Longhorns made five straight field goals.

With relentless movement off and on the ball, Carr manufactured a banked runner in the lane before Xavier hit an important three. Bishop continued his production with a dunk on a pass from Allen. After four straight points scored by Xavier forward Jack Nunge, Texas guard Tyrese Hunter connected from downtown and Allen hit a deep banked three to beat the hafltime buzzer and go up by 17 points.

Early in the second half, Texas dealt with foul trouble, including the third called on Bishop, as well as three quick fouls called on forward Dillon Mitchell, but seven points from Hunter helped maintain a 16-point margin at the first media break of the second half.

Hunter continued his hot streak with a three in transition to extend the lead to 20 points after a three by Carr, plays that put the Musketeers in deep trouble from which Xavier was not able to recover — a short run to cut the margin to 17 points was countered by a Bishop layup. Bishop also stopped a 9-2 run by the Musketeers with a lob dunk finish.

The strong effort early in the second half ensued that Texas faced little drama throughout the second half.

Texas advances to play No. 5-seed Miami on Saturday in the Elite Eight at 4:05 p.m. Central on CBS.