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CHAPEL HILL--- Texas (10-1) outplayed North Carolina (7-3) Wednesday on its way to an 86-83 win.
For the home team, the loss was the third of the season and was suffered because of the same problem that caused the first two.
"I'm not very pleased with our intensity, with our effort or with our concentration," head coach Roy Williams said. "I thought it was just ridiculous in the first half. (In the) second half we tried harder, but you have to be tough enough to step up and take shots. I'm tired of talking about free throws, you have to be tough enough to step up the dag'on thing or go play soccer. Tell Anson (Dorrance) I'm not trying to bag on his sport, but God almighty."
Despite Williams' expressed frustration - he was "not in the dadgum Christmas spirit, if you haven't figured that out," after the game- Marcus Paige said the coach did not scream at his team with full force, like he did after UNC's out-efforted loss to UAB earlier this season.
Screaming, the leading scorer said, was not necessary.
"He delivered the message, he didn't have to scream at us," Paige said. "He just let us know that that is not going to be accepted - that our effort on the boards, our effort getting loose balls - it's just not acceptable if you want to be a good team. We're capable of being a good team, but that (effort we gave tonight) is going to get (us) beat every time, especially in conference play."
A physical Texas opponent was one North Carolina expected - Williams told players at practice, "they're going to run at you. ... Driver, driver, driver," - and the signature large-sized Longhorns were expected, as what this year's team's speed. UNC just did not play to what it knew it needed to.
"We knew coming into the game Texas was a tough team," Isaiah Hicks said. "Coach told us, 'You've got to attack or be attacked,' and apparently we just didn't come out to play hard. They won the paint battle, they got the boards, we could've easily fixed it by just hustling. But that didn't happen."
"We were beyond prepared. We knew what the players do, we knew they liked to sprint, we knew they liked to push, we knew everything they like to do. It's just the fact that we let them do it."
Texas out rebounded North Carolina in the first half, pulling down 29 balls to UNC's 15 and the Longhorns had as many defensive rebounds at the Tar Heels had total that half.
That particular area was what Williams emphasized at the midway point, and although UNC closed the rebounding margin - out-rebounding Texas 27 to 22 - the second-half improvement was not enough.
"They hustled more," Hicks said. "Coach came in at halftime and told us about the rebounds they had compared to us. So basically we knew what we had to do… and we didn't do it."
"They wanted it more, they showed it from the beginning. They basically just punched us in the mouth."
Hicks said that a 5 a.m. practice following the game is something that the team needs, "to get (the players) in check," and Paige agrees.
That problem with effort is one that the point guard acknowledged as an off-again on again plague for this year's squad., and it's a becoming a signature trait that is not fitting with the school's program's standard.
"We've had a couple games where we're saying the same thing - 'Effort's what got us, effort's what got us, effort's what got us,'" Paige said. "We either have to change it or it's going to be forced to be changed. Coach is stubborn, he's not going to allow us to keep coming out flat, he's not going to allow us to keep missing opportunities to win games just because of effort."
"You come here to play for North Carolina, you shouldn't have to be coached on effort. You should be coached on X's and O's, you know, style from game to game. Effort is something you bring because you want to be here, you want to be successful."