AUSTIN (KXAN) — This season has been a wild one for the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball team to say the least, and one thing that’s helping the players navigate it is the faith they have in interim head coach Rodney Terry.

Following the Longhorns’ 71-66 win Saturday over Penn State and the program’s first berth in the Sweet 16 since 2008, some of the players described what Terry means to them and how his steady energy and calmness helped them through the adversity caused by Chris Beard’s dismissal.

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“He embodies what we are and what we try to be every day,” said senior forward Timmy Allen about Terry. “Tough, somebody who has been there before and someone who never shakes at adversity. He’s someone who wakes up and tries to attack the day to be great. When I have someone like that in my corner, I’ll do anything for them. I’m blessed that he’s here and I’m on his team.”

Allen, who transferred from Utah before the 2021-22 season when Beard and Terry were brought in, slapped Terry on the back after his answer and turned to him with a big smile to say, “I’m happy to be on this team with my big, my dog.” Terry can be heard off-camera, laughing with delight.

“God doesn’t make mistakes,” Allen said. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Senior forward Dylan Disu poured in a career-high 28 points in the win over the Nittany Lions, and when it was his turn to tell the gathered media members what he thought about Terry, he answered it with a question of his own.

“What’s not to love about RT?” he said with a smile. “He always starts us off in a great mood. He’s always positive and it rubs off on us. The appreciation he has, that he doesn’t have to come to work, but he gets to come to work with us, you can’t beat that.”

Terry began his second stint with the Longhorns last year as Beard’s associate head coach, mainly in charge of defense. By title, Terry wasn’t the head coach, but in the eyes of the players, he was respected like a head coach. Jabari Rice said, “he’s the definition of a leader.”

“We’re a reflection of our coach,” Rice said. “With as much winning as we’re doing, all of the preparation is RT and the coaching staff. He gets the staff ready just as much as he gets us ready, and he controls everything and it flows. He’s never in a bad mood unless we’re messing up, but we’ll take accountability for that. He’s a great dude and I love RT. I thank him every day for putting us in the position to succeed.”

After hearing the players speak, it’s easy to see why Terry seamlessly took over the reins of an already-talented team and has them in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 years. When talent works hard, and clearly Terry gets the players to do that, that’s when special things can happen.

“God’s great, and I’m so blessed to work with these guys,” Terry said. “I’m so proud of them and they’re a lot of fun to be around. We get our work in, we have fun and we’ve had an incredible journey.”