AUSTIN, Texas -- Right after Texas coach Rick Barnes finally could enjoy a big win in a bumbling season, he deflected tough questions about whether his best player really is gone for good.
Sheldon McClellan scored 18 points and struggling Texas upset No. 23 North Carolina 85-67 on Wednesday night. The Longhorns hadn't even sealed the badly needed signature win when Yahoo! Sports reported the NCAA had suspended guard Myck Kabongo for the entire season.
Kabongo has not played this season while the NCAA investigates the sophomore's relationship with Rich Paul, the agent of LeBron James of the Miami Heat.
After the win, Barnes would not directly address the report that cited unnamed sources.
"There's a process that every athlete goes through," Barnes said. "All I can tell you is that process is not done."
Kabongo started 34 games last season, averaging 9.6 points and 3.0 rebounds.
Reggie Bullock led the Tar Heels (8-3) with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
It was the first loss for North Carolina since being clobbered by then-No. 1 Indiana on Nov. 27, and this was mostly another humiliation after trailing by as many as 19 points.
North Carolina cut the deficit to four points in the second half before Texas ran away at the end.
"It was an ugly night for us to say the least," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
Barnes knew that a roster of 10 sophomores and freshmen could make for some growing pains. Texas has been used to fast starts for most of the last decade, but the first 10 games felt more like a nosedive at times than some bumps in the roads.
The low point was an embarrassing defeat to Division II Chaminade, followed a few weeks later by a 23-point loss to Georgetown.
Beating a ranked team was a chance at finally getting some traction, and the Longhorns may have found some with just two games left before the start of their Big 12 schedule. They will need it: up next is No. 20 Michigan State on Saturday.
Jonathan Holmes scored 15 points and Ioannis Papapetrou added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Longhorns.
"I think it's pretty big for us," Holmes said. "We've had a couple tough losses because we weren't playing as hard as we should have, but tonight we came out, played harder than them and did what we expected to do. It definitely sets the bar higher for us."
James Michael McAdoo had 14 points and joined Bullock as the only Tar Heels in double figures.
North Carolina shot a season-low 31.3 percent from the field and turned the ball over 18 times.
Texas attempted 46 shots in the first half. North Carolina had only 30.
North Carolina made just 3-of-19 3-point attempts. P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels' third-leading scorer, shot just 2 of 12 from the field.
"I felt like they were running us off the 3-point line," Bullock said. "They knew that we were 3-point shooters and they did a great job controlling us."