DES MOINES, Iowa (KXAN) — The Texas Longhorns beat the Colgate Raiders at their own game.
The second-seeded Longhorns started the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament 8-for-10 from 3-point range and held off the pesky Patriot League champs 81-61 Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.
The 15th-seeded Raiders came into the game as the country’s best 3-point shooting team, hitting more than 40% of their long-range shots, but it was Texas who made it rain. The Longhorns finished the game 13-for-23 from 3-point range to run away with the win.
“It was a great team win for our guys and put this game on our defense,” Longhorns head coach Rodney Terry said. “I was proud of the guys and what they were able to do today.”
Colgate shot 3-for-15 from 3-point range, one of the Raiders’ worst performances of the season from there. Terry said perimeter defense was paramount because he felt the Raiders wouldn’t be able to get much else against them offensively.
“We knew coming into the game that they could beat us with 3s, but we knew it would be hard for them to beat us with 2s,” Terry said. “They worked the paint a little bit, and we were willing to live with that. We did a great job getting back in transition and taking away their 3-point shots away.”
Jabari Rice led Texas off the bench once again with 23 points, including a 7-for-10 performance from 3-point range. Marcus Carr and Dylan Disu each scored 17 points and Tyrese Hunter had 10 points. Disu also pulled down nine rebounds and Timmy Allen had five assists.
Texas led by as much as 17 in the first half, but the Raiders methodically chipped away at the lead with a strong inside presence, something they aren’t exactly known for. With 5:17 left in the half, Colgate started feeding center Jeff Woodward in the post. He scored four points as part of a 12-2 flurry to cut the Longhorns’ lead to 37-30 with 1:39 left.
“We weren’t talking them lightly at all, we had the ultimate respect for them and wanted to get out to a good start,” Carr said. “We didn’t want them to have a whole bunch of confidence early, and they’re such a good shooting team we didn’t want them to have early good looks. We were locked into the game plan.”
The Longhorns extended their lead to 17, 64-47, with 12:01 left in the second half, but Colgate wouldn’t go away and cut the lead to 66-57 after an Oliver Lynch-Daniels jumper. Texas then plunged the dagger into the Raiders with an 11-0 run from the 5:30 mark to when Disu hit a short jumper with 1:38 left to put the Longhorns up 79-59.
It’s March Madness after all, and a lot of times at neutral sites, the casual fans gravitate toward the underdogs. Outside of the burnt orange-clad contingent at Wells Fargo Arena, the fans were really pulling for the Raiders. Rice likes it that way, though.
“I’ve always been a competitor so I love it when people are against us or hyped for their team,” Rice said. “It fuels us, and we play good in big games. We limited the distractions and just played basketball.”
Texas advances to the second round on Saturday and will play either Penn State or Texas A&M.