Texas vs. Northern Iowa: Score and Twitter Reaction from March Madness 2016

Mike Norris@@MikeNorrisBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2016

Northern Iowa guard Paul Jesperson (4) celebrates in the first half of a first-round men's college basketball game against Texas in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

Paul Jesperson's half-court heave at the buzzer gave the No. 11 seed Northern Iowa Panthers a 75-72 victory over the No. 6 Texas Longhorns on Friday at Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy Arena.

As jubilant as the Panthers were, the Longhorns couldn't believe what had just happened.

Jesperson was one of five Northern Iowa players to score in double figures, with 14 points. Wes Washpun led the way with 17, while Jeremy Morgan poured in 16.

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports noted how the Panthers seem to have a flare for the dramatic of late:

It wasn't always close, as the Panthers used a 23-2 first-half run to take a 16-point lead and what seemed to be control of the game. 

However, it was Texas that was up early 11-4, but the run by Northern Iowa quickly erased the quick start. It happened so fast, ESPN's Freddie Coleman didn't know what hit him:

It helped that the Panthers got seven points on one possession due to a flagrant foul from Shaquille Cleare.

At one point, the Panthers connected on 10 straight shots:

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports took a shot at Shaka Smart's Longhorns, who certainly looked lethargic:

Once Northern Iowa took the double-digit lead, Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald predicted the Panthers would slow the game down and the Longhorns had no chance:

Although they got the win, it didn't quite work out that way. 

The Longhorns ended the first 20 minutes on a 7-2 run and only trailed by eight, 44-36. They were lucky to be that close after the Panthers missed just nine total shots.

Seth Davis of CBS Sports noted the strong first-half shooting effort from the Panthers:

But it was the Longhorns who shot well to start the second half after the Panthers were put in a bit of a bind when the senior Washpun picked up his third foul less than a minute in.

Head coach Ben Jacobson elected to leave him in the game, but Texas went on a run and swung momentum the Longhorns' way, per their official Twitter account:

One possession later Eric Davis Jr. swished a three-pointer for Texas' first lead since early in the first half before Kerwin Roach Jr. pushed the lead to four on an alley-oop assisted by Isaiah Taylor.

A Roach layup gave Texas an impressive 17-3 run of its own and a five-point lead.

Robert Flores of ESPN was surprised by the strong Texas comeback:

However, after the big comeback the teams played fairly even the rest of the way, battling down to the final seconds. Washpun finally picked up his fourth foul at the 9:45 mark, but he did not leave the game until hitting free throws a possession later to tie the game at 58-58.

Andy Garman of KCCI-TV noted how the guard seemed to be willing his team to victory:

The help came in the form of Morgan, whose steal and coast-to-coast layup gave Northern Iowa a 66-62 lead at the 7:15 mark:

Jason Kersey of the Oklahoman noted how the game featured swings in momentum:

It was back-and-forth in what seemed like a lead change every possession before Taylor, who led Texas with 22 points and six assists, tied the game at 72-72 on a floater with 2.7 seconds left. 

Jesperson then hit the game-winner without Northern Iowa calling a timeout in what seemed to be the only way to end this type of game. 

It was one where it felt like neither team deserved to lose, but in the end Texas heads home and Northern Iowa moves into a second-round matchup Sunday against the No. 3 seed Texas A&M Aggies. 

It should be another hard-fought game considering the Aggies won a share of the SEC regular-season title and coasted in their opening game against the Green Bay Phoenix, 92-65.

Postgame Reaction

Jeff Rabjohns of Rivals.com acknowledged Jesperson will go down in NCAA tournament history forever:

Jesperson talked about the winning shot after the game, per ESPN.com.

"I told those guys I thought it had a chance when it left my hand, because I got it more toward the center of the court," Jesperson said. "But, yeah, when it went in, I looked at my parents, I saw my brother there, both my brothers, and I was extremely happy and grateful that that thing went in."

Jacobson had to feel good for his team, but he also benefited personally from the shot, according to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today:

As exciting as the scene was for the Panthers, it was nothing but devastating for Smart and his team, as Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman described immediately following the game:

When Smart had to address his team in the locker room, there wasn't a whole lot of talking, per Mike Finger of the Houston Chronicle.

"There's not much you can say to make them feel better in moments like this," Smart said. "I just told them I love 'em and I'm proud of 'em."

As amazing of a win as it was, it counts the same as any other and the celebration can't last long. Jacobson was already having to answer about his next opponent, Texas A&M, in the postgame presser.

According to Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle, the coach knows it will be a stiff test: "It appears to me they've got some of everything (in terms of good players)," the head coach said.

Check out Bleacher Report's live updating bracket to track your picks along the road to the Final Four. 


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