When Abilene Christian head coach Joe Golding drew up a game plan to knock off Texas, he likely didn’t envision his team shooting 29.9% from the field.
But the Wildcats turned up the pressure on the defensive end and dominated on the offensive glass to stun No. 3 Texas, 53-52, capping the first round of the men’s tournament on a wild note.
Abilene Christian forward Joe Pleasant drained two free throws with 1.2 seconds left to give the Wildcats their first NCAA men’s basketball tournament win in program history. Pleasant’s clutch free throws came seconds after Texas took the lead on a 3-pointer from Andrew Jones. They were Pleasant’s only two free throw attempts on the night after he shot 58.8% from the charity stripe on the season.
Texas turned the ball over 23 times on the night, leading to 23 Abilene Christian points. The Wildcats had 20 offensive rebounds, four of which came from Pleasant. Abilene Christian took 27 more shot attempts than Texas, and became the first team in the last 10 years to win an NCAA tournament game while shooting under 30% from the field.
This is just Abilene Christian’s eighth year competing at the Division I level after previously playing in Division II. The program’s first men’s NCAA tournament berth came in 2019, when it lost in the first round to No. 2 Kentucky.
With the loss, Texas has now been knocked out of the first round three times under head coach Shaka Smart. In six seasons with Smart at the helm, the Longhorns have never made it out of the first round, with two of those defeats coming at the hands of a No. 11 seed and No. 14 seed.
SI’s tournament newsletter analyzes everything you need to know about the Big Dance: what just happened and what’s happening next. Sign up for Morning Madness here.
More NCAA tournament coverage: