Shaka Smart spent six seasons leading the Longhorn basketball program. After an ascendant NCAA Tournament run from the First Four to the Final Four in 2011, Smart rode the momentum from five-straight NCAA Tournament appearances at Virginia Commonwealth into being Rick Barnes’ successor at The University of Texas.
ACU forward Joe Pleasant stepped to the line trailing by one with just over a second left. A 58 percent free throw shooter, Pleasant would need to hit one to tie the game at 52 and two to seal an upset over Texas for the 14-seed Wildcats.
In Matt Coleman’s freshman year, Texas lost to Nevada in overtime during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Playing in March Madness was a dream of Coleman’s ever since he realized college basketball was his future path.
When the buzzer sounded in Saturday’s Big 12 Tournament final, years of pent-up emotions finally surfaced. Texas head coach Shaka Smart produced a celebratory yell that momentarily tore away the intense but measured demeanor he brings to the sideline. His players celebrated a program first, a Big 12 Tournament title, and cut down the nets in Kansas City.
Prior to the Big 12 Tournament one year ago, Texas was uncertain if it would be in the field of 68. A five-game win streak put them back in the conversation, but there was no certainty of their place in March Madness.
Jase Febres’ junior season ended on February 8th, 2020 when the Texas guard suffered an injury versus Texas Tech. He would require surgery to repair a microfracture in his left knee, beginning a long and arduous recovery process. His 2020-21 debut game against Kansas State saw him on the floor for 22 minutes. One month later, Febres didn’t total 22 minutes across three games versus TCU, West Virginia, and Kansas.