When they look back on Wednesday night years later, Dylan Osetkowski and Kerwin Roach II will call this their senior night. March 9 may carry that title on the Texas basketball schedule, but they will remember this moment at the Frank Erwin Center — the happiness, the standing ovations for them, the dominant victory — as theirs.
On an evening where the Longhorns dominated the Colorado Buffaloes in the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament, it was Osetkowski and Roach who led the way for Texas. The two combined for 29 points, 11 rebounds and six assists en route to Texas’ 68-55 victory that advances the Longhorns to Madison Square Garden for the tournament semifinals.
“We’ve had some games where they haven’t played like seniors,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “Tonight, they did. One silver lining of the way (the season) played out was those guys got to end it in a different way. I think tonight you could see they understood. They both were really aggressive.”
The first senior night essentially ended the Longhorns’ NCAA Tournament hopes when they lost in dismal fashion to TCU. Osetkowski played one of his worst games of the season. Roach didn’t even play, as he was serving a suspension.
But on Wednesday, both Osetkowski and Roach played with a controlled aggression and confidence they’ve missed. Osetkowski dominated Colorado’s bigs inside the paint and added a nice step-back three pointer. Roach made his own luck by driving past Buffalo defenders who simply weren’t quick enough to stop them.
"It was just amazing in so many ways,” Roach said. “I didn’t even get to walk on my senior night. This opportunity was just a blessing for me.”
“To be able to get checked out, have the fans give me an ovation,” Osetkowski added. “My mom was in the crowd, my girlfriend was in the crowd. I think it was cool for them to experience that.”
Both seniors shined during a dominating 30-6 run for the Longhorns to end the first half. Texas smothered the Buffaloes on the defensive end, forcing nine turnovers and only letting Colorado score six points over the final 10 minutes of the period. Meanwhile, the Longhorns used good defense to lead to positive results on the other end.
The Longhorns employed terrific transition offense and were able to space out the Buffaloes by going on a torrid pace from outside. Five different Texas players hit three pointers in the final 10 minutes of the first half and the team shot 54 percent from outside during the period overall. And as the Buffaloes moved to respect the three point shot, Texas took advantage inside, where its pick-and-roll game featuring Jericho Sims and Royce Hamm Jr. worked with ease.
By the time the action ended, the Longhorns held a commanding lead.
“We were just being aggressive, pushing the pace,” guard Jase Febres said. “And our defense was locking up and when you do to that to any team, it’s going to be hard for them to come back.”
While the second half wasn’t as efficient for the Longhorns, it didn’t matter.
Colorado cut the lead to as little as 15 at one point in the second half, but the Longhorns brushed any comeback attempts aside, finding just enough offense through the likes of Febres, Roach and Matt Coleman III to secure a lopsided victory.
Now, the Longhorns will move on to Madison Square Garden where they will get the chance to face the team who ended their NCAA tournament hopes less than a month ago — TCU. And with the bright lights of the Garden shining down, Roach wants an opportunity to avenge a bad defeat.
“It’s going to be a redemption game, especially for me,” Roach said. “It’s going to be an amazing matchup.”