Actor Matthew McConaughey showed his support for the men’s basketball team at his alma mater, the University of Texas, Saturday night, appearing on the bench for the team’s win over rival Oklahoma clad in a suit of the university’s color, burnt orange.
The Longhorns defeated the Oklahoma Sooners, 75-72, in the Big 12 clash. The win brought the Longhorns’ record to 11-7 on the season, and 3-3 in the conference, which places them in sixth place.
McConaughey, according to the Daily Texan, frequents Texas basketball games when in his hometown of Austin. But on this occasion he served as a de facto assistant coach, delivering a pre-game pep talk, counseling players during timeouts, and even standing near the bench for most of the game. At one point he did the Texas “hook ’em horns” gesture, drawing huge cheers from the crowd at the game. Announcers calling the content noticed just how into the game McConaughey was.
“It kept the mood light for sure, but he has a strong message he gives to us every time he sees us,” a player on the team, Dylan Osetkowski told the Daily Texan. “He dared us to be who we are tonight. He dared us to play for each other tonight for 40 minutes.”
The actor graduated from the University of Texas in 1993, the same year as his breakout part in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. That film was shot and set in Austin, and the actor famously got the part when he met the casting director at an Austin hotel bar and asked to be cast as Danny Wooderson.
Even before that, per Esquire, one of McConaughey’s first acting credits was in a commercial for a newspaper in Austin, the Austin American-Statesman, in an add where he said, “how else am I gonna keep up with my Horns?”
Last month, the actor was named a “minister of culture” for Texas’ new basketball arena, which is scheduled to open in 2021, per USA Today.
“He did a great job,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said of McConaughey’s role in the victory. “The interesting thing is during the game and the timeouts, and a couple times I peeked over at him, he looked a little nervous. So, I’m glad we could get this one for him and for all of us, but he was a big part of it in terms of energy.”
The head coach also praised McConaughey’s attire, as “high level.”
“I would love to get one of those,” Smart said of the suit. “He said he got it overseas. He has some connections I don’t have.”