Dec. 20, 2012
Video: Highlights vs. UNC
Recap: Men's Basketball tops No. 23/19 North Carolina, 85-67
Dalton Pool, Texas Media Relations -
AUSTIN, Texas — Playing stifling defense, running in transition and attacking the boards, the Texas Men’s Basketball team fed off the energy of a frenetic Frank Erwin Center crowd and vice versa during Wednesday night’s 85-67 home victory against No. 23/19 North Carolina.
The Longhorns outplayed and outworked the Tar Heels in what was a true team win for a young but improving Texas squad.
“It was a great team win,” said head coach Rick Barnes after the game. “I’m happy for these guys, because tonight they started seeing some of the things we had talked about. We were aggressive, ran and got on the glass.”
The crowd energy was substantial right from the tip, and it was evident that the noise level pumped up the Longhorns. Ioannis Papapetrou and Sheldon McClellan would often raise their hands in the air asking for even more liveliness from the fans, and Jonathan Holmes’ emphatic dunk over a Tar Heel in the waning minutes drew perhaps the loudest cheers the Erwin Center has heard all year.
Holmes was a consistent factor the entire game. The sophomore forward finished with 15 points while hitting 6-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-3 from three-point range, and added eight rebounds in 26 minutes.
“I think it’s a pretty big win for us,” said Holmes. “We’ve had a couple of tough losses, because we weren’t playing as hard as we should have. Tonight we came out, played harder than them, and did what we expected to do. It definitely set the bar higher for us.”
Many former Texas players were also in the building to cheer on the Longhorns against North Carolina, including T.J. Ford, Cory Joseph and Alexis Wangmene. Even former Tar Heel star and current San Antonio Spurs swingman Danny Green made the short drive up from the San Antonio to watch the matchup.
“There was a lot of hype coming into the game,” said McClellan, who led UT with 18 points. “Everyone was hyped for the game. For me personally, I think this was my first time I really got into the game and got my team pumped up. I was able do other things outside of just scoring.”
UT is now 5-3 all-time against North Carolina and has won five of the last six contests in the series. Under Barnes, the Longhorns improved to 4-1 against the Tar Heels. Texas is 30-14 against AP Top 25 opponents in the Erwin Center during the Barnes era.
UT had six players score at least eight points and four in double figures, including the 18 from McClellan and 16 from Julien Lewis. But much of the Longhorns’ offense started with defense.
Texas recorded a team season-high 12 steals and held North Carolina to just 31.3 percent shooting from the field. UT converted those 12 steals into 14 fast break points and 16 points off turnovers. The Longhorns then added to the hustle stat column with 18 second-chance points to go along with 18 offensive rebounds. The Tar Heels had just nine second-chance points.
UT returns to the court when it travels to face No. 20/19 Michigan State on Saturday, Dec. 22. Tip is set for 1 p.m. Central (2 p.m. Eastern) at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich., and the game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.