The Texas Longhorns’ sensational season continues, with Rodney Terry’s club overcoming a late Penn State push with one of their own to win 71-66 and advance to the Sweet 16.
Here are a few quick thoughts from Texas gritty late win over Penn State.
First things first ... I don’t know how you don’t give Rodney Terry the job at this point. I mean, he’s absolutely earned it. Terry not only kept Texas together after Beard, but he kept them thriving and living up to their preseason expectations as one of the best in the country. A No. 5 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll, a Big 12 Tournament title, and now, a 21-7 mark under Terry after he’s guided Texas to their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2008. And even beyond that, every chance the players get, they vouch for him as the guy for Texas, and the results definitively back that up. It’s simple — Texas needs to remove the interim tag and name Rodney Terry its next head coach.
Give Dylan Disu his flowers. In a game of this magnitude, he tied his career-high with 28 monster points for the Longhorns, breaking Kevin Durant’s tournament record for the most field goals in a tournament game with 14. He was Texas’ offense when they just couldn’t get much going against Penn State’s athletic guards early, and more notably, he was Texas’ offense late, scoring 10 more clutch points after Texas fell behind 58-55 dow the stretch. And this is just the latest, most significant example in a recent run for Disu, who also earned Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors and is playing some of the best basketball in the nation right now.
Timmy Allen was key in this win, especially defensively. Nine points 12 rebounds, and three assists with a block is a pretty solid stat line, but his impact defensively was far more significant. He was the primary defender on All-American Jalen Pickett and Allen’s discipline and length there was a huge factor in limiting the Penn State star to just 5-14 for 11 points and forcing him into seven turnovers. Just as Texas doesn’t win this without Disu carrying the load offensively, they don’t win without Allen mostly thriving in this assignment.
At the end of the day, this was a clutch, resilient win for the Longhorns. Texas jumped on top early, controlled most of the game and did just enough to keep the Nittany Lions at arm’s length, despite playing far from their best basketball collectively. And when a 10-0 Penn State run suddenly swung things out of Texas favor and it seems like they were overwhelmed, this veteran group just responded with a 14-4 run to effectively seal their Sweet 16 bid, despite some last-second mistakes that gave Penn State one final breath. But in any case, they’ve been resilient all year and fighting with the game on the line was ann early storyline when Terry took over. And then, in a game that might have just earned him the job, they fought in the final minutes and have advanced past the first weekend for the first time in a decade and a half.
Texas beating a really quality Penn State team despite hitting only one 3 is a remarkable feat. And to be sure, the Nittany Lions’ length and athleticism had a lot to do with that — Texas missed a couple they should have made, but Penn State just made it really difficult for Texas’ guards to do much. That game plan worked. Texas started 0-12 from deep and a timely trey from Sir’Jabari Rice was Texas’ only make. If you told me Texas would shoot that way from the perimeter while Penn State drilled eight and Camren Wynter worked the midrange for 16, I’d almost guarantee Texas loses. But thanks in large part to smothering first-half defense and, of course, Dylan Disu, they survived and advanced.
This story will be updated.
Rep the Horns during March Madness with help from Breaking T.