In their first-ever Maui Invitational championship game, No. 17 Texas came away with the victory, defeating No. 14 North Carolina 69-67 on a last-second jump shot from senior guard Matt Coleman III, who broke the 67-67 tie with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.
The Longhorns had never finished higher than third place in five appearances, according to David Thompson of the Fayetteville Observer. Coleman helped them change that, leading the team with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting (3-of-6 from three).
For North Carolina, Garrison Brooks added 18 points, but it wasn't enough as the Tar Heels fell to the Longhorns for the ninth time in 10 meetings, with their last victory coming in 2011.
- Matt Coleman III, G, Longhorns: 22 PTS, 3 AST, 1 STL
- Courtney Ramey, G, Longhorns: 13 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL
- Garrison Brooks, F, Tar Heels: 18 PTS, 7 REB, 2 BL, 1 ST
- Armando Bacot, F, Tar Heels: 10 PTS, 12 REB, 1 BL
Texas Defense Falters Late
The Longhorns held a 40-28 halftime lead after a slow start, when they hit just two of their first 12 field goal attempts and just one of seven from three to give UNC an early 11-8 lead inside the opening minutes. But they recovered later, exploding on a 22-5 run while showing up strong on defense.
In the final 10:04 of the first half, they held the Tar Heels to 13 points whiles coring 30, with six different players contributing to a 7-of-15 three-point ratio.
But the Longhorns struggled to hold onto that lead in the second half when UNC opened with a 12-2 run and went on to push the envelope with 39 points in the second half. Texas forced just three turnovers in the second half while adding just two blocks and two steals, compared to 10 turnovers, two blocks and seven steals in the opening frame.
Too Many Turnovers for the Tar Heels
Part of what contributed to the slow start for North Carolina was a monstrous turnover ratio in the first half. With 10 turnovers and a 28.6 turnover percentage—compared to just one assist. Texas capitalized, scoring 11 points off of those turnovers to hold a 40-28 halftime lead.
Brendan Marks @BrendanRMarks
So, in no particular order, UNC's issues that first half: - 10 turnovers to 1 assist - 5/13 from the free-throw line - 2/12 shooting from your starting backcourt - Texas shooting 7/15 from 3, compared to 1/4 for UNC Honestly, Tar Heels are sort of lucky to only be down 12.
With the disappointing start, the Tar Heels looked like the same team that nearly fell to Stanford on Tuesday. In their Maui Invitational semifinal game against the Cardinals, UNC had 24 turnovers, Stanford was able to capitalize, scoring 22 points off of them.
North Carolina averaged 16.3 turnovers per game entering Wednesday, compared to 14.0 from the Longhorns.
As their overall production improved in the second half, North Carolina managed to keep possession of the ball, posting just three turnovers (13.0 percent).
The Longhorns will take on another ranked team on Sunday when they host No. 12 Villanova, whose 3-1 record includes a win over No. 25 Arizona State and a loss to No. 16 Virginia Tech. North Carolina will face a tough test on Tuesday at No. 3 Iowa (2-0).