Abilene Christian HC Joe Golding Says Texas Upset 'Is What March Is All About'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2021

Abilene Christian players celebrate their 53-52 upset win over Texas in a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Abilene Christian men's basketball head coach Joe Golding put things into perspective early Sunday morning after his 14-seeded Wildcats beat the No. 3 Texas Longhorns in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Golding said: "We just beat the University of Texas, little old Abilene Christian out in West Texas. It's an incredible story. It's what March is all about."

In the last game of the tourney's first round, Abilene Christian prevailed 53-52 on the strength of two made free throws by Joe Pleasant with just 1.2 seconds remaining.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

No. 14 Abilene Christian upsets No. 3 Texas, 53-52 😨 THIS. IS. MARCH. https://t.co/b4jXpK48A5

Texas led 28-23 at halftime, but it was clear that Abilene Christian was giving the Big 12 tournament champions all they could handle.

That manifested itself in the Wildcats' second-half comeback, which was spurred on largely by their swarming defensive style.

Abilene Christian shot only 29.9 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc, but it didn't matter because they threw up 27 more attempts from the field than Texas did.

The Wildcats forced Texas to turn over the ball a remarkable 23 times, and they also destroyed the Longhorns on the offensive glass, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds to only five for the Longhorns.

Texas is by far the more talented team, but Golding's squad played fundamentally sound basketball and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament because of it.

This year's first round was one of the wildest in recent memory, with a No. 15 seed in Oral Roberts, a No. 14 seed in Abilene Christian and two No. 13 seeds in North Texas and Ohio all advancing to the round of 32.

Abilene Christian's win was extra special, though, since the small school knocked off the dominant university in its state on the biggest stage in college basketball.

Saturday marked the first men's NCAA tournament win in Abilene Christian history in only its second appearance, but Golding could have the Wildcats on the road to becoming a perennial tournament team.

They have reached the tourney in two of the past three years and won at least 20 games in three consecutive campaigns, which is no small feat for a team that finished .500 or worse in each of Golding's first five seasons at the helm.

The Southland Conference tournament champs will look to entrench themselves even more when they go on to face the 11th-seeded UCLA Bruins out of the Pac-12 in the next round.