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.
Shaka Smart has recovered from COVID-19. Texas’ practice on Sunday was the first one he was able to run since his positive test. In addition, he said Monday that Sunday’s practice was the first time someone within the Texas men’s basketball program was not in isolation or quarantine in almost three weeks. Good news, all around.
The hallowed hoops hall of Rupp Arena awaits the arrival of the No. 5 Texas Longhorns this Saturday in Lexington, Ky. Four national championship teams and six other Final Four squads have called one of the cathedrals of college basketball home.