Saturday night’s Round of 64 action just wrapped up, but not before one more huge upset. No. 14 seed Abilene Christian took down a power from their home state, No. 3 Texas basketball, in a brutal loss for Shaka Smart‘s team.
Texas entered the Big Dance riding very high. The Longhorns were winners of five straight, including a pair of huge Big 12 Tournament wins over No. 20 Texas Tech and No. 12 Oklahoma State, a pair of top-six NCAA Tournament seeds, to win the conference title. As a result, they earned a three-seed in this year’s edition of March Madness.
Smart entered the season under some pressure, but that mostly alleviated with this impressive season. He’s probably fine moving forward, but there were clearly high hopes for the Longhorns in March. Instead, they’re leaving Indianapolis without a single win.
Andrew Jones, who has one of the best stories in college basketball, was nearly the hero, hitting a huge go-ahead three with under 15 seconds to go. On the ensuing possession, Joe Pleasant drew a huge foul with just 1.2 seconds left. The 58.5-percent free throw shooter looked completely unphased, knocking down both shots to take the lead back, 53-52. ACU picked off Texas’ baseball-style heave down the court to try for a miracle, sealing a huge win.
No. 14 Abilene Christian upsets No. 3 Texas, 53-52 😨
THIS. IS. MARCH. pic.twitter.com/b4jXpK48A5
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 21, 2021
The finish wasn’t without controversy. The call that put ACU on the line was pretty controversial. Texas is way too talented to be in that spot to begin with, but this one will be debated for a while.
The foul call that gave Abilene Christian go-ahead free throw attempts pic.twitter.com/6IYgSky50F
— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) March 21, 2021
ACU turned the Longhorns over a crazy 22 times, allowing them to overcome a game in which they shot just 29.9-percent from the field, and were 3-of-18 from three. This was an upset built on gritty defense and determination.
ACU’s two leading scorers, Pleasant and Coryon Mason, had 11 points each. Texas basketball was paced by Jones’ 13.
The Wildcats advance to face No. 11 UCLA, which just had its own impressive upset of No. 6 BYU after beating Michigan State in the First Four. Abilene Christian joins 13 Ohio (over Virginia), 13 North Texas (over Purdue), and 15 Oral Roberts (over Ohio State) as the three biggest upsets of the first round. After a year away, the Big Dance hasn’t disappointed.