No. 17 Texas, back from tourney win, faces No. 12 Villanova

·3 min read
Texas guard Matt Coleman III (2) hugs head coach Shaka Smart after their team beat North Carolina 69-67 to win the NCAA college basketball game championship for the Maui Invitational, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Asheville, N.C. Coleman was the MVP with the winning basket and high score of 22 points.(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

No. 17 Texas moves from one major challenge to another on Sunday when it hosts No. 12 Villanova in a Big 12-Big East Battle dustup at Austin, Texas.

The Longhorns (4-0) march into the Sunday contest with the momentum built from winning the Maui Invitational this, defeating Davidson and Indiana before topping No. 14 North Carolina 69-67 in the championship game on Wednesday.

Villanova (3-1) leaves the bubble at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., in which it played its first four games and will bring a deep and experience squad to Austin.

Texas' Matt Coleman III hit the game-winner with 0.1 seconds to play to clinch the Maui final. The Longhorns led by as many as 16 points against North Carolina but surrendered the lead late in the game before charging back for their third win in three days.

Coleman paced the Longhorns with 22 points in the final and earned tournament MVP honors, averaging a team-best 16 points and five assists in 37 minutes per game over the three contests.

Courtney Ramey added 13 points, Kai Jones registered 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Greg Brown added 10 points against the Tar Heels.

"We have a lot to learn from the 120 minutes of video from the last three games," Texas coach Shaka Smart said after the win over North Carolina. "The exciting thing is that there's not a guy on our team that can't play better."

After beating the 2017 NCAA champion Tar Heels, Texas now takes on 2018 champion Villanova.

"Every day in practice we've just got to keep trusting our skills, and we will keep getting better and not take a dip and just continue to grow and learn from this," Coleman said.

The Wildcats head to Austin on the heels of an 87-53 win over Hartford on Tuesday, bouncing back from an 81-73 overtime loss to then-No. 16 Virginia Tech on Nov. 28.

Justin Moore scored 15 points against Hartford, 13 in the first half, to lead six Wildcats who scored in double figures.

Villanova got a huge boost from their reserves, as redshirt freshman forward Eric Dixon posted his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes, while Brandon Slater and Cole Swider added 13 points each. The Wildcats' bench outscored Hartford's reserves 40-12.

"I'm proud of our leaders," Villanova coach Jay Wright said, listing Collin Gillespie, Jermaine Samuels and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. "After you have a tough loss like we did the other night, those guys just came in here focused on defending and rebounding. That really gave the other guys the space to do what they did.

"Eric, Cole and Brandon were terrific. I have an implicit trust in our veterans, and I relied on them too much against Virginia Tech and we got worn down. Our bench was really impactful (Tuesday)."

The two teams have not faced each other since 2008, when Texas won 67-58 in a game played in New York. The Longhorns lead the all-time series 2-1.

--Field Level Media