Rick Barnes' 2002-2003 team came into the season with a top 5 ranking and very high expectations. Led by All-American pg TJ Ford, Texas never fell out of the top 10 all year. The youth from the prior season was now a year older, a year more experienced and a year more mature. That growth would lead to a 22-6 regular season and earn the Longhorns a #1 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Two wins over UNC-Asheville and Purdue put Texas in the Sweet 16 and a match up against #5 seed UConn. The Longhorns prevailed behind a 27 point performance by Brandon Mouton putting UT one win away from a trip to the Final Four.
TJ Ford posted a double double with 19 points and 10 assists against #7 seed Michigan State to help Texas cruise to a 85-76 win and earn a trip to New Orleans. The school's first Final Four appearance since 1947. A loss to eventual National Champion Syracuse didn't diminish a dream season in Austin.
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