KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KXAN) – The Texas men’s basketball team has already made history in an emotional season making the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008. Now they are set to duel with the Xavier Musketeers out of the Big East at 8:45 p.m. Friday.
Xavier reached the second weekend after beating a pair of double-digit seeds. The Musketeers handled 14th-seeded Kennesaw State 72-67 and 11th-seeded Pittsburgh 84-73.
The Longhorns, too, have played only double-digit seeds. The test against Xavier looks on paper to be their toughest yet in the tournament.
“Xavier is a really good team,” said Longhorns senior guard Marcus Carr. “Obviously, they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. Great offensive team that likes to push the pace. They can shoot the ball well.”
That offensive attack is led by Souley Boum, a graduate transfer that Rodney Terry coached at UTEP. In his first year with Xavier, the veteran guard is averaging over 16 points, four assists and four rebounds a game.
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“In terms of the scouting report and things like that he knows sort of his tendencies,” Carr said about the benefit of Terry’s knowledge of Boum. “That was also a couple of years ago and I’m sure he’s gotten better as a player. Obviously, he’s a really good player.”
“You talk about a great kid, one of my favorites to coach,” said Terry about Boum. “He was a guy that’s all about trying to win…just a fierce competitor.”
Xavier is 10th in the nation with over 81 points a game. On the defensive end, the Musketeers aren’t quite as efficient, ranking 280th in scoring defense.
Like Texas, the Musketeers are a veteran group. Xavier’s regular starting lineup features two graduate students, two seniors and a junior. In his first full season back with Xavier, Sean Miller has led the program on a strong turnaround.
The Musketeers navigated a tough Big East to a 15-5 conference record and an appearance in the tournament championship game. The only Big 12 opponent that Xavier has faced this season was West Virginia back in early December. The Musketeers took down the Mountaineers at home 84-74.
The winner will face the winner eiother Houston or Miami in the Elite Eight. The Longhorns are a 4.5-point favorite according to DraftKings Sportsbook.