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Men's Basketball

Dancing again! After difficult season, Longhorns back in NCAA Tournament

First opponent, full bracket to be unveiled during NCAA selection show later Sunday on TBS

Posted March 11th, 2018

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The Longhorns fought through numerous obstacles this season and faced some long odds at times. But Texas is still going dancing.

The Texas men’s team received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday after putting together a 19-14 campaign and finishing tied for sixth in the Big 12.

Tenth-seeded Texas will face seventh-seeded Nevada (27-7) in the first round on Friday in Nashville. Tipoff time will be determined later.

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Texas freshman Mo Bamba (4) dunks in the second half against Texas Christian at Shollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. TCU won, 87-71. (Joyce Marshall/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)

Coach Shaka Smart’s club missed the NCAAs last season, thus making it imperative the program get back in the field of 68 this year. Texas has not missed the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years since 1987 and ’88.

The entire field was unveiled during the NCAA selection show, which began at 5 p.m. on TBS. 

Smart and UT players are scheduled to meet with reporters late Sunday.

Led by freshman big man Mo Bamba, Texas was 10-4 after non-conference play and a win over Iowa State on Jan. 1. But that was the last time guard Andrew Jones, the team’s second-leading scorer, wore burnt orange.

The school announced on Jan. 10 that Jones was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a devastating emotional blow for one of the team’s most well-liked players.

The Horns went through a three-game losing streak in mid-February and then ricocheted between wins and losses down the stretch. Bamba missed the last two games of the regular season with a sprained toe injury, and guard Eric Davis Jr. was benched in the wake of a report alleging he took money from an agent.

Still, a team down to a seven-man rotation managed to pull off an overtime win over 20th-ranked West Virginia in the regular-season finale. Then, UT dispatched Iowa State in the first round of the Big 12 tournament to effectively secure its spot in the NCAAs.

Other Big 12 teams could make a claim on one of the last few at-large spots. Texas was ranked 39th overall in Division I according to Ken Pomeroy’s analytics website. Two other Big 12 bubble teams, Oklahoma (47th) and Oklahoma State (56th), were ranked lower.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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