By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Abilene Christian Wildcats were one of several upsets in the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The No. 14 Wildcats defeated the No. 3 Texas Longhorns, 53-52, on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In the battle of Texas schools, Abilene Christian won the game with 1.2 seconds left. They are the fourth team that was seeded 13th or worse to win their Round of 64 game.
Besides the Wildcats, the No. 15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, No. 13 North Texas Mean Green, and No. 13 Ohio Bobcats also won their games. This is the first time in a single tournament that four teams, who were seeded 13th or worst, advanced to the Round of 32.
Joe Pleasant gave the Wildcats the win when he made the second of two free throws with 1.2 seconds left in the game. After the free throws, Abilene Christian then stole the pass on the last play of the game to seal the victory.
“I was visualizing the free throws going in before I shot them,” Pleasant said. “I was just trying to key in on the rim, just lock in and block out the noise.”
This was the first time that the two Texas schools have faced each other. Also, it’s the 22nd time that the No. 14 seed defeated a No. 3 seed in the tournament.
“We just beat the University of Texas. Little ol’ Abilene Christian out in West Texas built a program that went toe-to-toe with the University of Texas, and it’s an incredible story,” Abilene Christian head coach Joe Golding said. “It’s what March is about. We needed March Madness, man. We needed some type of normalcy in our country. We needed people to fill out brackets. We needed people to cheer for the underdog.”
The Wildcats were led by Coryon Mason and Pleasant, who had 11 points each. Mason also had two rebounds and one assist.
Pleasant had eight rebounds and one steal. Both men were the only Abilene Christian players in double figures.
The bench contributed 15 points. Clay Gayman led the bench with nine points.
Andrew Jones led the Longhorns with 13 points. He also had three rebounds, five assists, and one steal.
Jones was one of three Texas players, who scored in double figures. Kai Jones added 11 and Jericho Sims contributed 10.
Texas had just six bench points. Jase Febres and Greg Brown came off the bench to score three points each.
The Wildcats will face the UCLA Bruins next on Monday, March 22nd. The game will tip-off at 5:15 pm EST and will be televised on TBS.
“I felt like two years ago, we were kind of happy to be there as a first-time experience,” Pleasant said. “Then this team, we’re ready to take on another challenge, not just to be here but to compete, to get some wins.”
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