The No. 23 North Carolina Tar Heels showed their youth against the an equally young Texas Longhorns team Wednesday night and lost, 85-67.
The first half was all Texas. Sloppy play by North Carolina and efficient shooting led to a 13-point lead for the Longhorns after the first 20 minutes of play.
It didn't seem likely that the Tar Heels would even be able to make this one a game in the second half. Texas jumped out to a 19-point lead at one point in the first half, making North Carolina look young and disinterested at times.
Part of the problem seemed to be the lack of a go-to guy on the offensive end of the floor and North Carolina's continuing problem of closing out on the perimeter, but that would change in the second half.
A light seemed to come on for James Michael McAdoo in the second half. The versatile forward wound up with 14 points. Reggie Bullock provided help with his 18 points, but it still wasn't enough to get North Carolina the victory.
For the Tar Heels, this game was all about missed opportunities. They shot 31.3 percent from the floor and committed 17 turnovers, causing them to lose a Texas team that has struggled mightily to start the season.
But that doesn't take away from the Longhorns effort. Sheldon McLellan finished with 18 points, but he struggled from the floor. Julien Lewis and Jonathan Holmes also contributed double figures, but this win was all about grit for Rick Barnes' team.
Both of these teams have a lot of work to do on both ends of the floor, but this will give Texas a vote of confidence moving forward. Even though it was an extremely sloppy game, beating a team like North Carolina always feels good.
It's also worth noting that Myck Kabongo, Texas' best player, was not in the lineup.
For Roy Williams' team, it's all about improvement throughout the season. They're clearly young and without a go-to talent, except for McAdoo at times. It will come down to effort on both ends of the floor and interior play if this team wants to go anywhere.
ESPN's Jay Bilas put Texas' offensive outburst in perspective:
Texas scored 41 points in 40 minutes against Georgetown. Texas has scored 41 points in 17 minutes against North Carolina.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) December 20, 2012
Jay Williams believes that the key for UNC lies on the defensive end:
Charlotte Observer reporter Jonathan Jones made a great point about how these teams looked in the first half:
Somebody called this UNC-Texas match a trap game for UNC. Uhhh I think it would have been a trap for Texas.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) December 20, 2012
FOX Sports' Andrew Jones makes a note of two excellent programs that have struggled so far this season:
Mediocre atmosphere says a lot about how Texas has struggled and how UNC isn't the rave right now.— Andrew Jones (@AJonesFoxSports) December 20, 2012
InsideCarolina summed up the end of the game:
#UNC has failed to convert on 3 different opportunities to get within 4 points. Texas up 7 with 6:15 to play.
— InsideCarolina (@InsideCarolina) December 20, 2012
Player of the Game: Jonathan Holmes
Holmes was efficient on the offensive end, and he provided tough defense.
Sheldon McClellan was also very good at times, but his lack of scoring efficiency really hurt him at times. Holmes didn't have that issue, and he wound up with 15 points overall.
Holmes' length makes him an interesting player for Rick Barnes. He provides versatility down low, making him a very capable player next to Cameron Ridley.
He's also able to step outside as well, which makes him even more valuable.
Texas desperately needs scoring, and Holmes can provide that.
North Carolina will play McNeese State on Saturday, while Texas travels to face No. 20 Michigan State that same day.