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Three Key Takeaways.
- Northern Iowa spread the floor against Texas in the first half – and Texas mirrored the strategy to start the second. The Panthers kept five men on the perimeter for most of the first half. That forced the Longhorns to vacate the paint and respect the three-point line, which opened up the lane for the Panthers’ quick cutting guards. Wes Washpun, the Panthers leading scorer, only had four in the first half while Jeremy Morgan had 12 including a pair of threes. Texas came out of the locker room with a clear strategy to play the Panthers’ own game, and it worked as they quickly narrowed the gap. The Longhorns erased an eight-point halftime deficit in the first six minutes of the second half, which led to a back-and-forth battle of attrition from there on out.
- Texas had to stray from its inside game to combat Northern Iowa’s quickness. The Big 12 defensive player of the year, Prince Ibeh, played a total of four minutes in the first half. This was a direct result of Northern Iowa’s strategy of spreading the floor and forcing Texas to play a smaller lineup. When Texas turned it around on Northern Iowa, they were able to keep Ibeh in the game which allowed him to make a difference on defense.
- Miracle from half-court. Both teams shot horrifically down the stretch, with Northern Iowa ending the game 2-of-10 from the field and Texas 2-of-12 during the same stretch. Isaiah Taylor redeemed himself with a fabulous drive and finish to tie the game with 2.7 seconds left, but one of those pair of makes for Northern Iowa was a desperation half-court bank shot by Paul Jesperson to win the game at the buzzer. It will go down as one of the iconic moments in NCAA Tournament history.
Star of the Game. Paul Jesperson, Northern Iowa. Jesperson ended with 14 points and was a solid 4-of-7 from behind the arc, but all that really mattered was his spectacular half-court buzzer-beater.