NCAA men's preview: Texas vs. Abilene Christian
(3) Texas vs. (14) Abilene Christian, first round, 8:50 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis (cap. 8,000)
TV/radio: truTV / 104.9
About the series: First meeting. This is Texas’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018. Abilene Christian is making just its second Division I tournament appearance in school history. ACU lost to Kentucky in the first round in 2019.
About the Longhorns: Smart’s club has achieved something few Texas basketball teams have ever done. This is just the fifth time since 1985 that UT has a top-three seed. ... The numbers would indicate the Horns are solid across the board but not excellent in any one area. Texas doesn't rank in the top 25 nationally in any category. Still, digging deeper, Texas led the rugged Big 12 in rebounding margin (plus-4.4) and defensive rebounds (27.7). ... This is the type of game where Sims and Kai Jones should get plenty of looks, as they should present matchup problems for the smaller ACU frontcourt. ... Smart is likely to use freshman Greg Brown as the first reserve. Smart said Brown has been “really high energy since we’ve been here in Indy.”
About the Wildcats: Smart believes in defense, so the first thing he did was study ACU’s. The Wildcats lead the nation in turnovers forced (20.3) and turnover margin (plus-6.4). With that kind of suffocating defense, ACU doesn’t allow many points. Golding’s club ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense (60.5) and first in the Southland Conference. Miller and Daniels were the two key reasons why ACU was second nationally in steals (9.93). Bottom line, this team hustles. Smart said ACU also denies the passing lanes, something Texas players don’t normally see in Big 12 play. Perimeter defense is solid, too. In the Southland tournament championship game, Nicholls State went 0-for-12 from 3-point range in the second half. “That’s our identity. That’s who we are,” Golding said afterward. “We will play hard for the Southland Conference across our chest.”