Three Thoughts on Texas’ 83-71 NCAA Tournament Win over Xavier
The Texas Longhorns beat the Xavier Musketeers, 83-71, in the Sweet 16 of the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Here are three thoughts on the game.
Texas (29-8) will advance to the Elite Eight where it will face No. 5 seed Miami (FL) on Sunday. It will be the Longhorns’ first Elite Eight trip since 2008.
Xavier (27-10) was the final team eliminated from the Sweet 16.
The Dylan Disu Effect
There was no word of a problem with Dylan Disu before Friday’s game. But the first hint was a video tweet from Austin television station KVUE that indicated that Disu was dealing with some discomfort during pre-game warmups.
Right before tip-off, CBS reporter Tracy Wolfson said that Disu hurt his left foot during practice on Thursday and an MRI revealed that he had a bone bruise.
He started the game and tried to play with it. That lasted 90 seconds. When he went to the rim to grab a rebound and came down he aggravated it. To make it worse his teammate, Dillon Mitchell, hit him in the face.
After a trip to the locker room, Disu returned in a walking boot. His night was done before it even started.
This was a big deal for Texas. Disu averaged 22.5 points and 10 rebounds in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Who was going to fill those shoes? Let’s find out.
How Texas Won
It was a combination of everyone, really.
Directly, it was Christian Bishop. The talented forward came off the bench and assumed the bulk of Disu’s minutes and had a good game, especially in the first half. He scored 10 of his 18 points in the first 20 minutes and, frankly, helped Texas stabilize the inside without Disu. He also had nine rebounds.
Timmy Allen, as I thought he might, got his feed under him in this game — and I’m not just talking about the buzzer-beating halftime 3-pointer. He led a break in the second half that should have resulted in a Sir’Jabari Rice layup. But Allen finished with 11 points and six rebounds and he can count on handling a bigger load on Sunday.
But the reality was the guards won the day. Both Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter took turns frustrating the Musketeers on both ends.
Carr was the one that started the game hot. Hunter was the closer with the big second half.
Carr ended up with 18 points. Hunter had 19 points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the 3-point line. His third 3-pointer of the game gave Texas a 20-point lead and prompted an Xavier timeout. At that point, the game was all but done.
Oh, and Rice finished with 16 points off the bench. Texas shot 52 percent for the game and nearly 60 percent from the 3-point line.
Texas had it locked down — even without Disu.
How Xavier Lost
The Musketeers were caught in a buzzsaw called the Texas defense. The Longhorns have been an elite defense all season, and it held the Musketeers under 30 percent shooting in the first half as the Longhorns built a 17-point lead.
It didn’t get much better for Xavier in the second half. At one point the Musketeers had the lead down to 12 points early in the second half. But that run leading up to Hunter’s third 3-pointer took care of that.
Souley Boum, who was magnificent for Xavier in the NCAA Tournament and, honestly all season, had just 12 points. Texas focused Carr and Hunter on him all night and made it nearly impossible for the former UTEP Miner — at one point coached by Texas interim coach Rodney Terry — to make an impact.
Forward Jack Nunge had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Adam Kunkel had 21 points, which included five 3-pointers. Colby Jones added 12 points.
But it wasn’t Xavier’s night. Texas had a lot to do with that.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard