Is it the barbeque? Villanova’s Wright adds a regional title to his run of NCAA success in Texas

Villanova's Jermaine Samuels celebrates with teammates after being named the most valuable player. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels celebrates with teammates Saturday after being named the most valuable player in the South Regional. Villanova beat Houston, 50-44, and advanced to the Final Four. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Jay Wright, without a doubt, still calls Pennsylvania home.

He was born 60 years ago in Churchville, Pa., and he has worked for the past 21 years in Philadelphia as the head coach of the Villanova Wildcats.

Villanova coach Jay Wright. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova coach Jay Wright won NCAA titles in Houston in 2016 and in San Antonio in 2018. He added a regional crown on Saturday with a victory — in San Antonio, again — over the Houston Cougars. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Nonetheless, Wright’s affection for Texas continues to grow. After all, his Wildcats have stormed undefeated through six NCAA tournament games, two each on three trips into the state, over the past seven seasons.

Wright’s latest version of the Texas two-step came this week in San Antonio at the AT&T Center.

On Thursday night, Villanova downed the Michigan Wolverines in the Sweet 16. On Saturday afternoon, ‘Nova followed with a grind-it-out, 50-44 victory over the Houston Cougars, which clinched a South Regional championship and catapulted Wright past the Elite Eight and into next week’s Final Four in New Orleans.

In his other two visits to Texas, both of them to Final Four competitions, he won national championships in Houston in 2016 and in San Antonio in 2018. So, what is this all about, Coach Wright?

“I think barbecue,” he said in a deadpan reply. “I think we like barbecue. We love Texas. We really do. It’s always nice weather when we come down here. People are so friendly. I don’t know what to tell you.

“I don’t know what it is, man. We have played some great games down here against some really good teams, and we’ve come out on top.”

Forward Jermaine Samuels produced 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Caleb Daniels came off the bench for 12 points as the Wildcats out-battled the Cougars under extremely unusual circumstances.

The Wildcats survived and advanced in spite of adversity at every turn, namely a pro-Cougars crowd, 28.8 percent shooting from the field, 23.8 percent shooting from three and a glaring lack of offense from their two leading scorers.

Houston's Taze Moore gets the crowd going late in the game. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Houston’s Taze Moore gets the crowd going late in the game. Moore led the Cougars with 15 points and 10 rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I was proud of our guys,” Wright said. “Having experienced guys playing in that environment, like a true road game, them making a run, a really, really good team that you know can get on runs, and for (our players) to keep their composure and get a couple stops, hit big shots like Collin (Gillespie) did — having veteran players is the key to that, guys that have been in that moment before.”

Wright is thrilled to return to the Final Four, his fourth trip since taking over at Villanova in 2001.

“It feels great, man,” the coach said. “It feels great to be going back to the Final Four. It never gets old. It is a dream of every player and coach in college basketball. It’s the ultimate.

“We’re going to enjoy this. Tonight and tomorrow we’re going to enjoy this. We’re going to rest up, and then we’re going to get to work. We get to keep playing. That’s what we enjoy the most.”

South No. 2 seed Villanova (30-7) will play next Saturday in the national semifinals against either the Kansas Jayhaws or the Miami Hurricanes. In his heart, Wright knows that fifth-seeded Houston (32-6) could have been the team making the trip, and not his.

Villanova's Caleb Daniels puts up a shot. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova’s Caleb Daniels puts up a shot against Houston. Daniels finished with 12 points and six rebounds off the bench. – Photo by Joe Alexander

After all, the Cougars were brilliant defensively.

Not only did they hold Justin Moore to eight points and Gillespie to six, they also battled for rebounds with such tenacity that one Wildcats player compared it to “a street fight” under the backboard.

In the end, though, the Cougars could not overcome their own offensive foibles, which included 29.8 percent shooting from the field and 5 percent (1 of 20) from three.

More painfully, many of the Cougars’ shots, particularly late in the game, were good looks.

“Teams that cry care,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “There was a lot of tears in that locker room, coaches and players. This team’s been through a lot this year. I knew it was going to take a good team to beat us. And a good team did.”

Villanova made only two field goals in the last five minutes, both of them critical to the Wildcats’ success. The first was by Gillespie and the other by Samuels.

After the Cougars cut what had been an 11-point Wildcats lead to two, Gillespie stalled the momentum when he pulled up for a 15-footer with five minutes remaining.

Villanova's Jermaine Samuels shoots around Houston's Fabian White Jr. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels shoots around Houston’s Fabian White, Jr. Samuels finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He hit 6 of 10 from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Later, with the clock at 1:25, Cougars point guard Jamal Shead sank a transition floater, and Sampson called time out to set up the full-court press. Villanova inbouded successfully, pushed it up court and found Samuels on a driving layup.

It settled into the net with 1:06 remaining for a 48-42 Villanova lead. On the other end, Sampson appeared to be motioning to one official that Samuels should have been called for carrying the ball on the dribble drive to the hoop.

Never mind the argument. As the Cougars pushed it back downcourt, they got the ball to Kyler Edwards, who was fouled and hit two free throws. Four-point game. Fifty nine seconds remaining. Houston still had a chance.

On the Wildcats’ next possession, they got it to Moore, who drove into the lane and then veered out of the paint to his right. Suddenly, he went down, injured, and had to come out of the game.

Houston had the ball on the turnover, going back the other way, and Cougars guard Taze Moore saw an opening to drive right to left across the lane. It was a shot he had made before. But this one hit backboard and then rimmed out.

Gillespie grabbed the ball and started up court, only to get fouled. He hit two free throws with 25.7 seconds left for the final points of the game.

“First of all, congratulations to Jay,” Sampson said. “Villanova, I think they represent college athletics at the highest level, the right way. They’ve got a really good team.

Villanova's Justin Moore drives around Houston's J'Wan Roberts. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova’s Justin Moore drives around Houston’s J’Wan Roberts. Moore, the team’s second-leading scorer and a key defensive component, suffered an injury after a fall late in the game. His status for the Final Four is uncertain. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“But if you’d have told me before the game that we’re going to hold them to 28 percent from the field, (that) they’re going to shoot 23 percent from the three-point line, and we’d lose, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Sampson lauded his team’s effort.

“Our kids guarded,” he said. “Man, did we guard. Our defense was spot on. It’s not easy to hold a team with that kind of — Gillespie, Moore, Samuels — everybody in their lineup can make a basket. Shoot, we held them to 50 points.

“We had a lot of opportunities. They didn’t go in. That happens.”

Taze Moore, a transfer into Houston from Cal State Bakersield, finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Cougars. He was 6 of 21 from the field. Sampson said he didn’t think any were bad shots.

“We got down early, then we fought back,” Sampson said. “I think we had it to four, and we had a breakaway, and Taze missed one right there in the paint. Most of the shots he missed tonight were the same as he made against Illinois (in the round of 32).

“But that’s the way it goes.”

Villanova's Collin Gillespie shoots over Houston's J'Wan Roberts. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova’s Collin Gillespie shoots over Houston’s J’Wan Roberts. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. – photo by Joe Alexander

First half

It was a game of low-down, slow down in the first half, as the Wildcats emerged with a 27-20 lead on the Cougars at intermission.

Neither team tried to push the pace and both shot extremely poor percentages from the field — Houston (30.8) and Villanova (28).

The Wildcats were the aggressors early, jumping out to a 21-10 lead. Guard Justin Moore capped the run with a three from the top of the circle.


Houston was looking to advance to the Final Four for the second year in a row. But it was not to be. Part of it had to do with a lack of backcourt scoring. Shead scored 21 points and Edwards had 19 in a victory Thursday night over the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats. Neither were as effective against the Villanova Wildcats. Shead finished with nine points on 4 of 13 shooting. Edwards scored four on 1 of 12.


Villanova 30-7
Houston 32-6

Coming up

NCAA Final Four, at the Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, April 2-4.

Villanova celebrates with the South Region trophy. Villanova beat Houston 50-44 in the NCAA tournament South Region on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the AT&T Center to clinch a spot in the Final Four. - photo by Joe Alexander

Second-seeded Villanova celebrates with the South Region trophy after downing fifth-seeded Houston, 50-44. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Culture of defensive excellence defines the Houston Cougars

Houston's Fabian White Jr. plays defense on Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Houston’s Fabian White Jr. defends against Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin in the Sweet 16. White and the Cougars smothered the Wildcats 72-60. With the victory, Houston advanced to face Villanova today in the Elite Eight. – Photo by Joe Alexander

When the Houston Cougars emerge from the dressing room today, their reputation as a basketball team built on defense will precede even the first steps they will take in the layup line.

It’s a reputation known by everyone preparing to watch the NCAA Elite Eight matchup on television. By everyone on the streets scrambling to get a ticket for the game at the AT&T Center.

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson hopes to lead his team to a victory today and a second straight trip to the Final Four. – Photo by Joe Alexander

And, perhaps most importantly, by their opponent — the Villanova Wildcats.

Heck, any fan who has ever followed teams coached by Kelvin Sampson over the past 25 years knows what the Cougars are planning to do today once the ball is tossed in the air for the opening tip.

From a team concept, each player in a Houston uniform will know the plan tailored specifically to stopping Collin Gillespie and the Wildcats.

Each will know the nuances in the offensive repertoire of Gillespie and everyone else in the Villanova rotation.

Moreover, each Houston player will expend effort on the defensive end as if it’s the last thing they do.

That is essentially what happened Thursday night when the Cougars dismantled the Arizona Wildcats in the Sweet 16.

Arizona, one of the slickest and most skilled offensive teams in the nation, at first was rattled.

Then it was completely shut down. In a 72-60 loss that ended their season, the Wildcats were held some 24 points below their season scoring average.

Houston's Ramon Walker Jr. (left) and Taze Moore celebrate late in Thursday's game. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Houston’s Ramon Walker Jr. (left) and Taze Moore celebrate late in Thursday’s victory over top-seeded Arizona. – photo by Joe Alexander

As a USA Today columnist noted, “Houston’s physicality on every single play made things so difficult that Arizona quite literally didn’t know what to do.”

Since physicality is such an interesting word, sometimes conjuring images of an overly aggressive style of play, Houston forward Fabian White Jr. was asked Friday about the specifics of the description.

White had no problem with it.

“That’s just how we play,” White said. “We play physical. In practice, we barely call fouls. We dive on the floor, barely lose the ball in practice.

“That’s just our culture. We want to play physical and not make the game easy for the opponent. Yeah, I agree with that statement.

“We want to play physical as much as possible.”

As both teams’ players and coaches met with the media on Friday afternoon, Villanova coach Jay Wright summed up the challenge that his Wildcats will face, with a berth in the Final Four hanging in the balance.

“We know what an outstanding team we’re playing, (one) that’s got just great experience,” Wright said. “They were in the Final Four last year.

“You can tell by the way they play in these games, they are a very comfortable in this tournament setting. They’re very disciplined.”

In some ways, the Cougars’ commitment to defense overshadows some of the other elements of their success.

Villanova coach Jay Wright. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Two-time NCAA championship coach Jay Wright hopes to win today and advance his Villanova Wildcats to a third Final Four in six years. Wright-coached Villanova claimed NCAA titles in 2016 and 2018. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“I feel like they are underrated as an offensive team,” Wright said. “Everybody knows what a great defensive team they are, but I think they really find matchups to their advantage and execute intelligently, offensively, and part of their scheme is setting themselves up for offensive rebounds …

“We know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We worked out this morning, and we still have work to do to get ready for the game tomorrow.”

Villanova, the No. 2 seed in the NCAA South region, has played a pretty salty brand of hoops in its own right over the past few weeks.

Employing a walk-it-up pace most of the time, the Wildcats have registered victories over Delaware, Ohio State and Michigan, holding opponents to an average of 59 points per game.

Even with Villanova’s play of late, not to mention its history as a two-time NCAA champion under Wright, it’s intriguing to see that oddsmakers are favoring Houston to win today.

The reason? Likely, it stems from the Cougars’ relentless effort on the defensive end of the floor.

“It’s just really impressive,” Wright said. “Every coach tries to get their team to play that way. You wouldn’t talk to one coach who would say, ‘You know, I don’t care if my guys play hard defensively. I don’t care if they play every possession like it’s the last possession of their life.’

“We all try to get our guys to do that. Kelvin gets his guys to do it .. They literally play every defensive possession like it’s the last possession of the game.”

No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

The Houston Cougars’ hope their fans turn out in force today in San Antonio. Cougars’ fans made a difference in Thursday’s victory over Arizona.. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Houston shocks top-seeded Arizona in the Sweet 16

Houston's Jamal Shead, Kyler Edwards. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Houston guards Jamal Shead (left) and Kyler Edwards have a moment after the fifth-seeded Cougars knocked off the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats 72-60 in the Sweet 16 Thursday night at the AT&T Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

When Houston Cougars guard Kyler Edwards buried a three-point shot from the corner with a little less than eight minutes remaining Thursday night, he turned around and shouted at his teammates on the bench.

His teammates waved their fists and shouted right back.

Obviously, both Edwards and the Houston bench sensed that something big might be happening. They were right. Led by Edwards, Jamal Shead and others, the fifth-seeded Cougars upset the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats 72-60 at the AT&T Center in the NCAA Sweet 16.

Houston's Josh Carlton. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Houston center Josh Carlton fights for the ball Thursday night at the AT&T Center. Carlton played against bigger players and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. He was five for six from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

As a result, the Cougars will move on to play the Villanova Wildcats Saturday in the Elite Eight round of the tournament for the South regional title. The winner will advance to the Final Four next week in New Orleans.

“Our team, we’re a tough bunch,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We’ve gotten a lot better as the season’s (gone) on. All the credit goes to these kids. You know, I can do whatever I want (but) the coach doesn’t win games. The players do.

“I’m really proud of this bunch. They bought into the game plan, and they’re not afraid of anybody. Whether it’s UAB or Illinois or Arizona. Our next game with Villanova, we’ll just move on to that one and do the best we can.”

Shead scored 21 points and Edwards had 19 as the Cougars (32-5) reached the Elite Eight round of the tournament for the second year in a row.

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Coach Kelvin Sampson led the Houston Cougars to the Final Four last year. This year, the Cougars are now one win away from making a return trip. They’ll play Villanova in the Elite Eight round for the NCAA South regional title on Saturday at the AT&T Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova (29-7) beat the Michigan Wolverines 63-55 in the South region’s other Sweet 16 match-up earlier Thursday.

For Shead and Edwards and the Cougars, playing in an NBA arena in a tournament game against an elite opponent like Arizona was a big. A loud and boisterous crowd that filled most of the seats spurred them on.

“We liked how the crowd showed up today,” Edwards said. “The crowd brought all the energy today. They really helped us.”

Added Shead: “The crowd was electric.”

Shead and Edwards helped create some of the electricity. A sophomore from Manor, Shead had 21 points, six assists and four rebounds. Edwards, a senior from Arlington, had 19 points. He hit 6 of 13 shots from the field, including 5 of 9 from three.

Dalen Terry paced the Wildcats with 17 points and six rebounds. Bennedict Mathurin had 15 but he was 4 of 14 from the field. Seven-foot-one Christian Koloko had 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

First-year Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said he thinks his team had a great year.

“Overall it was great,” he said. “I thanked these guys after the game. They’re an amazing group of guys. I’ll always be thankful for them. I think they helped me get Arizona basketball off to a good start in my tenure, and I’ll always be thankful for them.”

Houston's Ramon Walker Jr. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Ramon Walker Jr. played 26 minutes off the bench against top-seeded Arizona. He held his own with five points and three rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Wildcats entered the Sweet 16 on a seven-game winning streak. In their last 18 games coming in to the meeting against the Cougars, they had gone 17-1. In the end, they finished 33-4.

“I think we really built some foundational pieces this year that are really going to serve us well moving forward,” Lloyd said. “Extremely proud of the guys. Extremely proud of the coaching staff. We ran into a really good team tonight that was just a little bit too much for us.”

First half

In Game Two of an NCAA Sweet 16 doubleheader at the AT&T Center, the Houston Cougars on Thursday night used seven players in the first half and all played a role in building a 34-28 lead on the Arizona Wildcats.

At one point, the fifth-seeded Cougars were up by 10 points — 29-19 — on the top seeded team in the South region.

Houston's Jamal Shead. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore Jamal Shead enjoyed a breakout performance for Houston against Arizona, scoring 21 points, passing for six assists and snaring five rebounds.- Photo by Joe Alexander

Kyler Edwards, a senior from Arlington, was perhaps the key player, holding Arizona star Bennedict Mathurin to five points and one field goal. Mathurin didn’t have a field goal until 1:33 left in the half.

Other standouts included Josh Carlton and Jamal Shead with six points apiece and Ramon Walker with five. Reggie Cheney had four. Both Walker and Cheney came off the bench to give the Cougars a lift.

Defensively, the Cougars were excellent. The Wildcats, one of the best offensive teams in the nation, were limited to 7 of 25 shooting from the field. Dalen Terry had eight points and Christian Koloko seven.

Highlights for the Cougars were plenty. Fabian White opened by hitting two straight shots from the field.

Carlton played with flair and finesse on the inside, snaking around taller and broader defenders to hit shots. Shead authored a key sequence with about six minutes left.

As Koloko fired a pass out from the post, Shead stole it near half court and sped the rest of the way for a layup. The play brought the Houston fans to their feet.

Houston's Kyler Edwards. No. 5 seed Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Houston’s Kyler Edwards hit five 3-point shots and scored 19 points Thursday night against the Arizona Wildcats. Defensively, Edwards helped to guard Bennedict Mathurin, who was held to 15 points on 4 of 14 from the field. — Photo by Joe Alexander.

Villanova steps up the defense to knock off Michigan, 63-55

Villanova's Jermaine Samuels. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Jermaine Samuels produced 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting to help the No. 2-seeded Villanova Wildcats beat the 11th-seeded Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Sweet 16. – photo by Joe Alexander

Forward Jermaine Samuels scored 22 points and the Villanova Wildcats, playing aggressive second-half defense, downed the Michigan Wolverines 63-55 Thursday night in an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game at the AT&T Center.

Justin Moore had 15 points and Collin Gillespie 12 for the Wildcats, who took 30 three-point shots and made nine of them.

Michigan's Hunter Dickinson and Villanova's Eric Dixon. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Hunter Dickinson of the Michigan Wolverines (left) battles against Villanova’s Eric Dixon. Dickinson had 15 points and 15 rebounds but was limited to 6 of 16 shooting by Jermaine Samuels, Dixon and others. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Hunter Dickinson led the Wolverines with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Eli Brooks scored 12. Michigan trailed by only three at the half but couldn’t get the offense going in the last 20 minutes.

Villanova held Michigan to 26.5 percent shooting in the second half.

With the victory, the Wildcats, seeded second in the NCAA South region, will move into the Elite Eight round. They will play Saturday against the Houston Cougars. Houston upset No. 1 seed Arizona 72-60 later Thursday night.

For the 11th-seeded Wolverines, the season is over. Michigan had high hopes last fall but couldn’t sustain the success once the season went into late February. The Wolverines (19-15) were 6-6 in their last dozen games, counting the postseason.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats (29-7) are rolling. Coach Jay Wright’s team has won eight in a row. In its last 14 games, Villanova is 13-1. Samuels was the man in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader, helping to hold the 7-foot-1, 260-pound Dickinson to 6 of 16 shooting.

“I wanted to stay mobile,” Samuelson said. “I understand my teammates are right behind me. They’re going to make plays for me. That gave me all the confidence in the world. He’s a phenomenal player. He’s going to get great looks at the basket.

“Knowing I had my teammates behind me, that gave me all the confidence I needed.”

Villanova’s Caleb Daniels supplied some energy and toughness in the second half, when he went off for eight points and four rebounds.

Asked what got him going, Daniels said he knows his teammates will find him on the perimeter if he is open. He also claimed that he wanted to be on the attack, to make things happen.

“That pretty much started defensively,” Daniels said.


Michigan 19-15
Villanova 29-7

First half

Villanova's Collin Gillespie. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Senior Collin Gillespie led Villanova with four 3-pointers. He was 4 of 14 from the field and scored 12 points. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The first 20 minutes were not pretty. The Michigan Wolverines shot 44.4 percent.
The Villanova Wildcats? They were good on 37.9 percent.

Michigan blocked four shots. Villanova made four steals. It was just one of those halves.

Villanova had an edge, though. Faced with a zone defense, the Wildcats fired up 16 three-point attempts and made five of them, taking a 31-28 lead over Michigan.

Wildcats point guard Collin Gillespie knocked down three of them and his backcourt mate, Justin Moore, sank two.

Samuels finished the half with 11 for Villanova, followed by Moore with 10 and Gillespie nine.

For Michigan, Hunter Dickinson produced eight points, four rebounds and a couple of blocks.

He led the Wolverines offensively with four of seven shooting. DeVante’ Jones led a late surge for Michigan. He had seven at the half.

Michigan jumped out to an early lead but Villanova for the most part controlled the action. The Wildcats’ biggest lead was seven at 18-11 with 10 minutes left.

Villanova's Justin Moore. No. 2 seed Villanova beat No. 11 seed Michigan 63-55 in the NCAA tournament South Region Sweet 16 on Thursday, March 24, 2022, at the AT&T Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Villanova guard Justin Moore had 15 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds against the Michigan Wolverines. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Sweet 16 is set to tip off in San Antonio; Michigan-‘Nova up first

Good afternoon, all. I just sat down at press row at the AT&T Center. Time to rap out a few notes on the Sweet 16.

First, the Michigan-Villanova game.

Michigan (19-14) hopes to win and advance to the Elite Eight for the 15th time (16 if you include the 1993 game, which was vacated because of NCAA infractions).

The Wolverines have advanced to the Elite Eight round recently in 2018, when the John Beilein-coached team swept into the Final Four and lost the NCAA title game to Villanova, and last year under coach Juwan Howard. Last year, the UCLA Bruins beat the Wolverines by two in the R8 to deny Howard his first trip to the Final Four as a head coach.

If Michigan wins, it would be the second year in a row that an 11 seed has reached the Elite Eight but only the ninth time since 1985. Since ’85, only five 11 seeds have made it all the way to the Final Four.

The Wolverines started the season with high hopes but fell into a funk during Big Ten competition, going 4-4 leading into the postseason. After losing to Indiana in the first game of the conference tournament, Michigan entered NCAAs as a No. 11 seed and defeated six seed Colorado State (75-63) and three seed Tennessee (76-68).

Villanova (28-7) is shooting for its 16th trip to the Eight, 17 if you count the vacated 1971 tournament. The Wildcats have reached the R8 four times previously under Coach Jay Wright, advancing in 2006, 2009, 2016 and 2018. The Wildcats won NCAA championships in both 2016 and 2018. The ’18 title was claimed at the Alamodome with a victory over Michigan.

The Wildcats enter the Sweet 16 on a high. They’ve won seven straight. They’re also 12-1 in their last 13 games. Seeded second in the South, Villanova downed (15) Delaware 80-60 and (7) Ohio State 71-61.

In the second game of the night, it’s Houston vs. Arizona.

Houston (31-5) is hunting its 14th trip to the Elite Eight. The Cougars made the R8 last season on the way to its first Final Four trip in 37 years. The Quentin Grimes-led Cougars lost in the national semifinals to the Baylor Bears, who went on to claim the NCAA championship. It was Houston’s first Final Four since the 1983-’84 days of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Phi Slama Jama.

Despite losing two star players around the first of the calendar year, the Cougars are hot coming into the Sweet 16. They have won five straight. In their last 12 games, they are 11-1. Houston won the AAC tournament in Fort Worth with victories over Cincinnati, Tulane and Memphis. Moving into the NCAA tournament, the Cougars drew a No. 5 seed and set out for Pittsburgh, where they downed the UAB Blazers, 68-53, and then knocked off four seed Illinois, 68-53.

Arizona (33-3) hopes to win and claim a 12th berth in the Elite Eight. The Wildcats last made it to the R8 in 2011, 2014 and 2015. Arizona is one of the hottest teams in the nation at the moment. The Wildcats have won seven straight. In their last 18 games, they are 17-1. Arizona defeated Wright State, 87-70, in the first round of the tournament at San Diego. The Wildcats outlasted the TCU Horned Frogs, 85-80, in overtime in the round of 32.

Sweet 16 will showcase a handful of elite offensive talents

Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin, shown here dunking against TCU Sunday night, is the player to watch in the Sweet 16 at the AT&T Center.

The NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 in the South region features a few individual offensive stylists on each of the four teams that could inspire even the most over-the-hill, couch potatoes to sign up for gym memberships in April.

Then again, some of your friends in the forever out-of-shape category may just want to tune into the games to watch the theatrics unfold, just for the heck of it.

Some, no doubt, will be inspired only to reach for another bag of chips, or for one more adult beverage — which is fine.

Regardless, we’ll explore this afternoon what both of Thursday night’s games will have to offer in terms of ball players who have the ability to score in streaks at the AT&T Center.

In the first game that tips off at 6:29 p.m., the 11th-seeded Michigan Wolverines will call on center Hunter Dickinson and guard Eli Brooks to do damage against the two-seed Villanova Wildcats.

They Wolverines will be tasked with slowing down some pretty good shot-makers on the Wildcats, as well, namely All-American guard Collin Gillespie and his backcourt mate, Justin Moore.

In the 8:59 p.m. nightcap, the high-flying, top-seeded Arizona Wildcats will showcase perhaps the most highly-rated player in the Sweet 16 in 6-foot-6 guard Bennedict Mathurin, plus a few other standouts, namely, forward Azuolas Tubelis and 7-1 center Christian Koloko.

The fifth-seeded Cougars, possibly the best defensive team in San Antonio this weekend, probably will prefer to play at a somewhat deliberate pace to keep the Wildcats from taking too many shots.

Also, the Cougars’ two best offensive threats — Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark — are injured and out for the season.

Regardless, Houston will start guards in Kyler Edwards, Jamal Shead and Taze Moore who can shoot and play in transition in stretches if it’s necessary. They’ve also got center Josh Carlton and reliable veteran forward Fabian White, a career 49 percent shooter.

Michigan vs. Villanova

In the opener, Dickinson, a 7-foot-1, 260-pound sophomore from Virginia, has emerged as a player who has carried the erratic Wolverines to back-to-back victories for the first time in a few months.

A left-hander with a deft touch from all three levels, he produced 48 points on 16 of 23 shooting combined against Colorado State and third-seeded Tennessee.

In one of his best outings of the season, Dickinson had 27 points and 11 rebounds in a 76-68 upset of the Volunteers.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard, one of the best big men in the nation when he played for the Wolverines, talked about the potential for a good show between Dickinson and Villanova’s Eric Dixon.

Though Dixon is only 6-7, Howard lauded his skillset.

“I know they talked about the guard play from Gillespie and Moore and others,” Howard said. “But Dixon, when you’re a 6-7 center … sometimes you look at that as slight. But he’s not just a center. He’s a basketball player … a competitive basketball player built with a lot of strength, toughness …

“(He) can shoot the basketball extremely well … (He) plays with a high IQ.”

Villanova coach Jay Wright said that he recruited Brooks out of high school at Spring Grove, Pa. In that regard, the coach knows what Michigan’s 6-1, fifth-year senior will bring to the table.

“I did see him getting this good, and this is what we thought he would be,” Wright said. “That’s why we recruited him. As I remember it — I’m not always good at this, but he visited our place, and then he told us he was going to take a visit to Michigan and then made his decision.

“Then he called me and told me he was going to Michigan. That’s what I remember.

“Great, great kid. Great family. This is kind of what we thought he’d be. We thought he’d be a four-year guy and a great player and winner, (a)champion by the time he was done … it’s a shame we got to go against him because you root for a guy like that.”

Houston vs. Arizona

Mathurin emerged as a hot topic of discussion in media interviews — and some of it was for reasons that didn’t have anything to do with basketball.

The Associated Press published a story saying that Mathurin, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, communicated by email to the TCU athletic department in an attempt to apologize following reports on social media that indicated he might have made contact with a TCU dance team member after a round of 32 game in San Diego last weekend.

Mathurin, who scored 30 points to lead the Wildcats past the Horned Frogs, reportedly was bowing to the crowd after the 85-80 overtime victory Sunday night.

As he turned toward the tunnel, the AP story said, “he appears to be looking the opposite way with his arms still outstretched when his left hand goes near the woman’s chest, though it is unclear whether there is any contact.”

Asked to respond Wednesday, Mathurin told reporters, “Yeah, I actually sent an e-mail trying to reach out to the cheerleader and sent (it) through the TCU athletic department. I reached out to her, and that is it.”

He declined to answer a follow-up question about whether he recalled touching the dancer when leaving the floor.

“I answered your question,” Mathurin said.

Playing against the Horned Frogs, the sophomore shooting guard sank a 3-pointer to tie the game in regulation and then scored six more points in overtime as Arizona survived against ninth-seeded TCU.

“He’s the best guard we’ve seen,” said Sampson, a former San Antonio Spurs assistant coach under Gregg Popovich. “That’s not coach speak, that’s the truth. I was in the NBA for six seasons, and he’s an NBA guy.

“He’s not going to go in and be a role player. He’ll start. He’s going to get drafted so high that they’re going to start him.”

In the Cougars, the Wildcats will need to guard an array of talent that, as a group, averages 75.2 points. The Cougars shoot 47.1 percent from the field as a team, including 34.4 percent from three.

“I’m so impressed just with how (their) players do what they’re told to do,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “Just the effort they play with. They max out every effort area. They’re well drilled on offense. They know the shots they want to take.

“They know who’s taking them, where they’re coming from, and they obviously do an amazing job offensive bounding. And then, defensively, the effort and energy they play with and attention to detail, it’s almost unmatched.”

With players buying into Sampson’s system, Houston ranks fourth in the nation in scoring defense (59 points per game), first in field goal percentage defense (37.5) and 11th in 3-point defense (28.8).

Nonetheless, the Cougars can also fill it up on offense, and the explosions can come from seemingly any position.

For instance, they have had three different players lead the team in scoring over the last five games.

In a span of three games at the American Athletic Conference tournament and two in the NCAA tournament, White and Edwards have led the Cougars in scoring twice, while Moore, who is usually a distributor, exploded for a season-high 21 in a 68-53 thumping of fourth-seeded Illinois on Sunday afternoon.

“Three-hour drive from home, we’re expecting a big turnout,” Carlton said. “But we also know Arizona … has a big fan base. We know their fans travel well, but we’re really expecting for our fans to show up.

“That’s the big benefit of having this game so close to home, being able to have the fans be there and support.


Game One: Michigan (19-14) vs. Villanova (28-7).

Game Two: Arizona (33-3) vs. Houston (31-5)

Cougars arrive for a Wednesday workout in San Antonio

The Houston Cougars just arrived for a Wednesday morning/afternoon workout at the AT&T Center. Fifth-seeded Houston will take on No. 1 seed Arizona in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament Thursday.

Houston is one of the top defensive teams in the nation. The Cougars lead the nation in field goal percentage (37.5) defense and rank fourth in points allowed (59 per game). They’re 12th nationally in rebound margin per game (seven).

The Michigan Wolverines emerged as the first team on the floor Wednesday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Michigan will take on Villanova and Houston will play Arizona on Thursday night in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA South region. The winners will play Saturday in the Elite Eight, with the survivor advancing to the Final Four in New Orleans next week.

Teams are working out and talking to the media Wednesday morning and afternoon. Please check back for updates.

From a ‘Dazzling Dude’ to Kiana Williams: San Antonio’s top 30 moments in college basketball

Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson talks to reporters at his dressing cubicle during the 2018 NCAA Final Four. With Brunson now playing for the Dallas Mavericks, the Wildcats are coming back to San Antonio to play in the NCAA Sweet 16 against the Michigan Wolverines on Thursday. — File photo by Jerry Briggs

If it’s late March, then we’re talking NCAA tournament basketball. We’re talking college hoops. In San Antonio, we have a history with the game, and so there are plenty of reasons to like the prospect of a Sweet 16 featuring Michigan-Villanova and Houston-Arizona, starting on Thursday night at the AT&T Center.

Here are my top 30 college basketball moments from an Alamo City fans’ historical perspective, in chronological order:

1960 – Former Edison High School standout Rudy Davalos plays point guard and leads the Southwest Texas State Bobcats to the NAIA title. Later, Davalos serves three years as an assistant coach with the Spurs before he is hired in 1976 as UTSA’s first athletic director.

1961 – St. Mary’s University freshman Herman ‘Buddy’ Meyer suits up to play his first game for the St. Mary’s Rattlers to begin a 41-year association with the school. Meyer made all-conference all four years and would later coach the team to its first national title.

March 8, 1969 – Trinity University is the first team from San Antonio to play in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers lose 81-66 to the Texas A&M Aggies in the first round of a 25-team event.

Jan. 24, 1970 – St. Mary’s University’s Doug Williams produces 24 points and 18 rebounds for the NAIA Rattlers, who defeat NCAA Division I Houston, 76-66, in San Antonio. The Alabama native and three-time All-American scored 2,246 points in his career, which remains as the school record.

1977 – Former Clemens High School and St. Mary’s star Robert Reid is selected on the second round of the NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets.

1978 – Former Burbank High School center Gilbert Salinas plays off the bench for a Notre Dame University team that reaches the NCAA Final Four.

March 1, 1980 – Texas A&M beats Arkansas, 52-50, for the Southwest Conference post-season title at HemisFair Arena. Aggies coach Shelby Metcalf wins a close one over Eddie Sutton of the Razorbacks.

Derrick Gervin watches a UTSA men's basketball game at the UTSA Convocation Center on Feb. 13, 2020. Gervin holds the UTSA men's basketball single-season scoring record (718 points in 1984-85). He is the second player in program history to have his jersey retired. - photo by Joe Alexander

Detroit native Derrick Gervin emerged as UTSA’s first star player, averaging 21.5 points over three seasons in the 1980s. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Nov. 30, 1981 – The UTSA Roadrunners play their inaugural men’s game at HemisFair Arena and lose 71-42 to Sutton and the Arkansas Razorbacks.

1982 – UTSA signs Derrick Gervin, the younger brother of Spurs guard George Gervin. Turning pro after three years in college, Gervin leaves the Roadrunners with averages of 21.1 points and 8.6 rebounds.

Feb. 6, 1984 – UTSA, under coach Don Eddy, beats Meyer-coached St. Mary’s 69-61 in the first Mayor’s Challenge Cup at HemisFair Arena.

1986 – Former John Jay High School student Clarissa Davis, as a University of Texas freshman, leads the Longhorns to the NCAA Division I women’s basketball title. Arizona assistant coach Ken Burmeister takes over as head coach of the men’s basketball program at UTSA.

November 1987 – “A Dazzling Dude.” Former Fox Tech High School star Fennis Dembo, who played at the University of Wyoming, appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Dembo is recruited to Wyoming by Jim Brandenburg, a former high school coach in San Antonio. Dembo leads the Cowboys to two NCAA tournaments, scores more than 2,300 points in four years and is selected in the first round of the 1989 NBA draft.

March 18, 1988 – Led by coach Ken Burmeister and players such as Frank Hampton and Clarence McGee, the UTSA Roadrunners win the Trans America Athletic Conference championship in Daytona Beach, Florida, and compete in their first NCAA tournament game against Illinois. The Illini down the Roadrunners, who were in only their seventh year as a program, 81-72.

1989 – In the spring, the Buddy Meyer-coached Rattlers score a 61-58 victory over East Central, Okla., in the NAIA championship game at Kansas City, and guard Anthony Houston is a first-team All-American. In the fall, seven-foot center Shaquille O’Neal, from Cole High School, opens his career at LSU. O’Neal becomes a two-time All-American.

1993 – In a push led by businessman Bob Coleman, sports administrator Robert Marbut, Jr., and others, San Antonio for the first time is named as a host city for the NCAA Men’s Final Four. The NCAA says the event will be played in 1998 at the Alamodome.

1998Tubby Smith-coached Kentucky downs Rick Majerus-coached Utah, 78-69, in the first NCAA title game played in the city. In San Antonio’s first Final Four, Kentucky defeats Stanford, and Utah edges North Carolina in the semifinals.

1999 – UTSA reaches the NCAA tournament under Coach Tim Carter. The Roadrunners are led by freshman Devin Brown from West Campus High School.

2000 – Mexico native Eduardo Najera, who played at Cornerstone in San Antonio, averages 21.5 and 10.8 rebounds in his senior year at Oklahoma. He is named first-team, all-Big 12. As a junior in 1999, he leads the Sooners to the NCAA Sweet 16. Najera’s coach? Kelvin Sampson, now the head coach at Houston.

March 31, 2002 – With Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi in the backcourt, the Geno Auriemma-coached Connecticut Huskies beat Oklahoma 82-70 to win the title, capping a 39-0 season in the first NCAA women’s Final Four held at the Alamodome.

March/April, 2003 – Texas wins the South region title in San Antonio and then gets knocked off in the Final Four by Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse. Former Sam Houston High School standout Jeremy McNeil comes off the bench in 35 games for the Orange, who win the NCAA title with an 81-78 victory over Kansas at the Louisiana Superdome.

2004 – UTSA reaches the NCAA tournament for a second time under Carter. Connecticut, under Jim Calhoun, wins the title at the Final Four in the Alamodome.

2008 – The Rae Rippetoe-Blair coached UTSA women play in their first NCAA tournament. In the men’s tournament, Lanier High School-ex Orlando Mendez-Valdez leads 12th-seeded Western Kentucky to the Sweet 16, and the Kansas Jayhawks beat the Memphis Tigers to clinch the NCAA title at the Alamodome. Mario Chalmers is the hero, hitting a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

2009 – The UTSA women, under Rippetoe-Blair, play in their second NCAA tournament and take No. 2 seed Baylor to overtime.

2010 – San Antonio hosts the second NCAA women’s Final Four at the Alamodome. Paced by guard Maya Moore, Connecticut beats Stanford, 53-47, for the title.

2011 – In UTSA’s fourth trip to the Big Dance, the Brooks Thompson-led Roadrunners win their first NCAA game with a 70-61 victory over Alabama State. UTSA is ousted in the Round of 64 by the Ohio State Buckeyes, 75-46.

2017 – The University of the Incarnate Word completes its four-year transition from Division II and becomes eligible in the 2017-18 season to compete in both the Southland Conference and NCAA Division I tournaments.

Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat Southwestern Adventist from Keene, Texas, 123-43 in a non-conference game on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Playing four years together, Jhivvan Jackson (left) and Keaton Wallace became the top two scorers in UTSA school history. Jackson, a native of Puerto Rico, scored 2,551 for the most career points in Division I history by a player born in Latin America. — File photo by Joe Alexander.

April 2, 2018 – Villanova, with coach Jay Wright and players such as Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo, downs Michigan for the NCAA men’s title at the Alamodome. The men’s Final Four was played in San Antonio for the fourth time.

April 7, 2019 – Baylor freshman NaLyssa Smith, from East Central High School, scores 14 points off the bench in an NCAA women’s title game victory over Notre Dame.

2021 – Paced by point guard Kiana Williams from Wagner High School, the Stanford women win the NCAA title in San Antonio, Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith wins the Wade Trophy as the national Player of the Year and two UTSA men’s players become career 2,000-point scorers. Jhivvan Jackson, from Puerto Rico, finishes with 2,551 for the most points by a Latin American-born player in Division I history, while Keaton Wallace, from Richardson, scores 2,080.

March 16, 2022 – The Incarnate Word women, under coach Jeff Dow, win the Southland tournament with three victories in three days. They reach the NCAA tournament for the first time and lose to the Howard University Bison in the round of 68.

No. 1 seed Arizona eliminates TCU in OT, advances to Sweet 16 in San Antonio

Pac-12 Player of the Year Bennedict Mathurin scored 30 points, and 7-foot-1 center Christian Koloko sank a put-back with five seconds left in overtime, leading the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats to an 85-80 NCAA tournament victory Sunday night in San Diego.

With the win, the Wildcats will move on to play the Houston Cougars in the Sweet 16. The South region battle betweeen the Wildcats (33-3) and the fifth-seeded Cougars (31-5) will take place on Thursday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Chuck O’Bannon led the ninth-seeded Horned Frogs (21-13) with a career-high 23 points. Eddie Lampkin and Mike Miles scored 20 apiece. Lampkin pulled down 14 rebounds.

After finishing tied for fifth in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs took a No. 9 seed in the South and won their first-round game, downing the Seton Hall Pirates, 69-42.

In the round of 32, they played Arizona to the wire, holding a three-point lead in regulation until Mathurin tied the game with a three out of the corner.

Mathurin was masterful, hitting 8 of 19 from the field and 11 of 13 at the free throw line. He also had eight rebounds. Koloko also was a force. He produced 28 points and 12 rebounds. The center connected on 12 of 13 shots from the field.

“Incredible battle,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I knew this was going to be a hard game. I try to tell our guys, TCU obviously plays in the Big 12 and they’re battle tested and they’re great defensively, and just so hard to keep off the glass.

“We weren’t having a crazy problem getting them to miss the first shot; it was just trying to get defensive rebounds. And so they get a ton of credit. They’re really hard to play against.”

O’Bannon expressed pride in what the Horned Frogs accomplished this season.

“This season was everything for us because we weren’t even expected to be here,” he said. “And for us to win our first game and be that close with the No. 1 seed just shows that we have a bunch of guys with a lot of grit. That’s all you can ask for.”


Michigan and Villanova will play Thursday at 6:29 p.m., while Arizona and Houston will tip off at 8:59 p.m., with both South region Sweet 16 matchups at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, according to the NCAA. The games will be aired on TBS. The Elite Eight game is scheduled for Saturday at the AT&T. The game time has not been announced.


Forcing a TCU turnover on the last play of regulation, Arizona’s Dalen Terry picked up a loose ball and raced half the court to dunk it — a potential game-winning basket that was waved off because it came just after time had expired.

As a result, the contest went to overtime tied, 75-75.

Moments earlier, Eddie Lampkin’s rebound and put back gave the Horned Frogs a 75-72 lead. From there, the Wildcats came down and called on Bennedict Mathurin, who drained a three out of the corner to tie the game.

TCU brought the ball up and turned it over at half court. But it was too late for the Wildcats to do anything with it.

Earlier, the Horned Frogs had erased a nine-point deficit in the last eight minutes and appeared to be on the brink of a major upset. Big plays by TCU’s Chuck O’Bannon, Lamkin and Mike Miles sparked the rally.

Purdue holds on to oust Texas from the NCAA tournament

Forward Trevion Williams sank 10 of 13 shots and scored 22 points Sunday night, and the third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers produced a 81-71 NCAA tournament victory over the Texas Longhorns at Milwaukee.

With the win, the Boilermakers (29-7) will move on to the Sweet 16 in the East region. Purdue will play 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s, of Jersey City, N.J., on Friday in Philadelphia.

The Longhorns were sparked all night by guard Marcus Carr until the Boilermakers started shading him with a second defender midway through the second half.

Hitting from the mid-range and from three, Carr produced 23 points and six assists to lead the Longhorns.

At the end, Carr became a distributor. He assisted on a couple of baskets in the final few minutes and then hit a three out of the corner with 1:30 remaining. His three sliced Purdue’s lead to three.

On the next possession, guard Jaden Ivey knocked down a long three from the top to push the Boilermakers up by six, 77-71, with a minute remaining.

Texas would get no closer the rest of the way.

The Horns (22-12) entered the tournament on a three-game losing streak. They had lost six of 11, including a loss to TCU in the Big 12 tournament.

Earning the sixth seed in the East, they were sent to Milwaukee, where they downed the Virginia Tech Hokies 81-73 in the first round. Against the Boilermakers, the Longhorns were looking for their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2008.

“I’m just super proud of our guys,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “It’s not all the normal coaching cliches, I really mean it. This group overcame a lot. Most of these guys recruited by Texas and us during the COVID. They didn’t take official visits.

“Four guys chose to stay. Other guys made the decision on Zoom calls and phone calls. They all came together and I thought (we) really had a good season. We came down here to win this tournament and came up a little bit short tonight, but never been more proud of a group.”