MILWAUKEE (AP) — Andrew Jones scored 21 points, Marcus Carr beat the halftime buzzer with a shot from well beyond halfcourt to put Texas ahead for good, and the Longhorns beat Virginia Tech 81-73 on Friday for their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2014.
The sixth-seeded Longhorns (22-11) advance to a second-round East Region game Sunday against No. 3 seed Purdue (28-7). The Boilermakers trounced Yale 78-56 on Friday.
After Virginia Tech’s Storm Murphy made two free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the first half to give the Hokies a 32-31 lead, Carr got about one-third of the way up the court before banking in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Carr had taken just a couple of steps beyond the 3-point arc on the opposite end of the floor and hadn’t even reached the “S” on the “March Madness” logo when he launched his shot.
Texas built on the momentum from that improbable basket and led by 17 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Virginia Tech’s Hunter Cattoor sank a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to cut Texas’ lead to 76-69, but the Hokies couldn’t get any closer.
Carr had 15 points and Timmy Allen added 14 and Texas went 10 of 19 from 3-point range while ending a five-game tournament losing streak.
That’s just what the Longhorns were seeking last year when they hired coach Chris Beard, a former Texas student manager who led Texas Tech to the national championship game in 2019.
Beard improved to 5-0 in NCAA Tournament first-round games. That record includes a 2016 game in which he led a 12th-seeded Little Rock team to a double-overtime victory over Purdue.
Virginia Tech’s Sean Padulla scored 19 points, with 13 coming in the last 4 1/2 minutes. Keve Aluma had 15 and Cattoor added 12 as Virginia Tech lost for just the third time in 16 games. The 11th-seeded Hokies (23-13) had played their way into the NCAA field by winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title last week.
Virginia Tech led for much of the first half but couldn’t keep pace with the Longhorns after Carr’s big basket. The Hokies went 5 ½ minutes without a basket as Texas started to pull away.
Carr found Christian Bishop for an inside basket with 11:18 left to give the Longhorns a 52-43 edge, the biggest lead for either team up to that point. Carr sank a 3-pointer 40 seconds later to make it 55-43.
Texas maintained a double-digit edge until the final minute.
Texas: Beard overhauled his roster by bringing in plenty of transfers, and those newcomers made an impact Friday. Carr played at Minnesota last season. Allen played at Utah. Creighton transfer Bishop scored 11 points. But it was a holdover from former coach Shaka Smart’s tenure who kept the Longhorns close early on. Jones had 17 points by halftime as he shot 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
Virginia Tech: This marks the second straight first-round NCAA Tournament loss for the Hokies, who fell to Florida in overtime last season. The Hokies entered the day ranked third in Division I in 3-point percentage (.393) but got outscored 30-12 from beyond the arc. Virginia Tech was 4 of 12 from 3-point range.
Texas will be trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since a 2008 regional final appearance when it faces Purdue on Sunday.