Longhorns Appear Ready for the Stage

Texas' dramatics in their 87-85 buzzer beating win over Arizona State Thursday in Milwaukee is one thing, but the Longhorns and their balanced attack give off the impression of a team eyeing much, much more.

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. -- No. 7 seeded Texas came into Thursday's match-up with No. 10 seed Arizona State holding little national attention, accompanied by some experts believing the Pac-12 was geared to pull an upset.

By the end of the evening, the first full day of the NCAA tournament's second round, the Longhorns and soft spoken sophomore center Cameron Ridley had captured the spotlight with a hard fought, dramatic, buzzer beating finish, putting Texas in a third round battle with No. 2 seed Michigan Saturday.

As most coaches will say following a last second miss in a loss, that outside shot that just rimmed out, the lay-in that rolled off the rim, no, it didn't cost us the game. What cost us the game was the series of plays, or in some cases lack there of, leading to that final possession, which ultimately did us in.

For Texas, obviously pleased and riding off into the sunset with that finish to a tremendous basketball game, a similar statement could be said.

Unexpected performance

Receiving big time minutes in the first half for Texas, freshman guard Martez Walker had a performance unlike most playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time.

Walker scored 10-points in the first 20 minutes of action for the Longhorns, looking poised and confident with the basketball, Walker earned the trust of Coach Rick Barnes.

In the second half, Walker wasn't as effective offensively as Arizona State began to close out with consistency but still managed to finish the night with 16 huge points off the bench, doing so very efficiently on just 3-of-4 shooting from the field, knocking down 9-of-10 attempts at the free throw line and turning the ball over just one time -- all rarities for a freshman on this stage.

In the locker room afterward Walker was all smiles, praising his teammates and the Longhorns' coaching staff for sticking with him and believing in him in a key spot.

Ridley's moment

Likeable.

The key to America's heart centers on a Cinderella story or individual talent being as likeable as possible. Looking at big Cameron Ridley after his big shot, it's easy to see why his teammates, and the rest of the country, loved him so much Thursday night.

"To this point it's the highlight," Ridley said afterward when asked if this was the best moment of his career. "I've never made a game winner in my life. To walk off the court and know that you're the one who made the play to take us to the next round was a great feeling.

"Next game we don't want to come down to a game winner, but anybody on the team could have made that play, but I was just so happy to be the one who did it this time."

Humble yet displaying a boyish excitement, Ridley barely even wanted to discuss the shot with question after question focused on him. His teammates on the other hand, raved about the work he's put in to slim down and focus up, now the centerpiece inside of a talented perimeter attack for Texas.

Ridley finished his night with 17-points and 12 rebounds against a very formidable Arizona State center in Jordan Bachynski.

Not over yet

For a team coming off of a season in which they finished under the .500 mark (16-18), the Longhorns had a look in their eye following the win over Arizona State that had an unmistakable, confident glisten, knowing, or at least hoping, this thing won't be over soon.

And with Texas' balanced attack it might not be.

The Longhorns had six in double figures Thursday, using a true inside out attack that should benefit them in their third round match-up against Michigan, an undersized, guard laden group that relies on outside shooting to carry them.

There's more in the tank for Texas, and seeing, up close, how quickly this young group turned their attention to the next one could be a good indication of what's coming for a team looking to make the Sweet 16 after working their way through a hellish regular season slate.


Horns Digest Top Stories