Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC put another big victory in the win column Saturday
afternoon when they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in Chapel
Hill. After stumbling a couple times early, this Tar Heels team
is beginning to look like a legit contender in the national
While the team still has its faults, it also has proven time
and again that it can get up for the big games and win them. The
main concern is whether UNC can make that consistent effort
against everyone and not play to the level of their competition.
They've got another big name team coming into the Dean Dome on
Wednesday when the Texas Longhorns come to town. This isn't the same
Texas squad that has featured the Kevin Durant's and T.J.
Ford's of year's past but they are a formidable team with a high
Unlike past games where UNC had to bring themselves back down to
earth and play "lesser" competition after a big win, this shouldn't
be the case this time around.
Let's take a look at some storylines heading into the game.
This is not a timid UNC basketball team.
They lose two of their top players and barely bat an eye as
Marcus Paige casually takes over the scoring and leadership
role. They don't have a wing presence so Roy Williams bumps
over James Michael McAdoo to small forward and inserts
freshman Isaiah Hicks into that spot with the expectation
that they'll pick it up and help the team. They lose Reggie
Bullock to the NBA Draft and instead of having a second-year
point guard running the show they have to go with a freshman
(Nate Britt) for a second year in a row.
They lose two games they should have won against Belmont and UAB
and they respond by taking out the defending national champs and the
No. 1 team in the nation shortly thereafter.
It doesn't seem to matter that every single player on the team
seems to be playing out of position or being asked to play a
different role than the one they expected to play. This team has
answered questions and come back stronger than most expected.
They need to keep that aggressive mindset going as they match-up
with a Texas team that has only one loss thus far. The Longhorns are
looking to help their tournament resume by beating a Tar Heel team
that is the talk of the nation right now.
If UNC doesn't come out aggressive, a lot of that goodwill
they've built up will go away and they'll have be in for a rude
awakening against a team that is still looking to prove themselves.
If you're not enjoying the "Marcus Paige Era" then something is
seriously wrong with you.
The guy simply can't be fazed by anything. He was supposed to sit
and learn behind Kendall Marshall last season but was thrust
into the starting spot and forced to learn on the fly. Then he was
supposed to start at the point this year, a role he spent all last
year prepping for, and is instead being asked to fill in as the only
scoring presence from the outside as the team lacks any real wing
How has he responded?
By improving his stat sheet all the way across the board.
His points per game and field goal percentage are both up by over
11 points, he's turning the ball over less, shooting a higher
percentage from behind the 3-point line and the free throw line and
is even rebounding at a higher clip all while sitting a total of
five minutes per game (35.2 MPG).
When UNC's needed him he's stepped up. That was certainly the
case Saturday when he scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half
during crunch time.
So when UNC takes the court against Texas, take a moment to
appreciate what you're watching because Paige has truly been
sensational this season and we haven't even reached conference play
feels like UNC is starting to level out and find a consistent rhythm
to their season. That's to say that they are looking more and more
like a team that is legitimately good and not one that has had some
fleeting moments. It feels like this team is going to win big games
more often than not and shouldn't be celebrated for early season
wins like it's the Super Bowl.
This team isn't as talented as the national title teams from a
few seasons ago but make no mistake, they are talented enough to
beat anybody at any time. It doesn't matter if it's on the road, at
home or at a neutral site, this time has the goods to get it done
and may still get back the services of P.J. Hairston and
Leslie McDonald later on.
vs. #14/18 North Carolina
Texas at a glance Location: Austin, Tx Nickname:
Burnt Orange & White Conference:
Big XII Arena:
Frank Erwin Center (16,540) 2012-2013 Record:
(7-11) Last Game:
Texas won 85-53 over Texas State in Austin on December 14. More on the Longhorn: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
F - Jonathan Holmes C - Cameron Ridley G - Demarcus Holland
G - Isaiah Taylor G - Kendal Yancy
Statistical Leaders Scoring: Jonathan
PPG) Isaiah Taylor (11.7 PPG)
Rebounding: Cameron Ridley (7.8)
Jonathan Holmes (6.8 RPG)
Assists: Isaiah Taylor
APG) Javan Felix (3.1 APG)
Points Per Game: 78.8 Rebounds Per Game: 43.7 Assist Per Game: 12.3 Field Goal Percentage: .448 3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .342
North Carolina at a glance Last starting line-up
F - Jame Michael McAdoo F - J.P. Tokoto F - Joel James
G - Marcus Paige G - Nate Britt
Statistical Leaders Scoring: Marcus Paige (19.2 PPG)
James Michael McAdoo (13.8 PPG)
Johnson (6.9 RPG) Kennedy Meeks (6.3 RPG)
(4.2 APG) J.P. Tokoto (2.6 APG)
Points Per Game:
78.0 Rebounds Per Game: 40.4 Assist Per Game: 15.2 Field Goal Percentage: .479 3-pt Field Goal Percentage: .298
Focus has been the one glaring drawback of the team. Whether it's
playing a lower profile team after a big win or connecting at the free
throw line, consistency is the one area the Tar Heels haven't proven
themselves just yet.
Unless they have an epic collapse during conference play, this team
has done enough to not be a bubble team come March. However, ever game
they play won't be against the Louisville's, Michigan State's and
Kentucky's of the world. There will be a few Boston College's and
non-hyped first round match-up's in the NCAA tournament to come and the
Heels have to bring the same intensity to those games as they do to the
If they can do that, this could be an unexpectedly special season for