Up­set win over Tar Heels el­e­vates young Longhorns

Texas started and fin­ished hot, and did not crum­ble dur­ing the stretch.

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - Byj­ef­fhowe Hookem.com Con­tact Mark Ros­ner at 445-3958. Twit­ter: @Markros­neraas Mar­lin le­vi­son / Min­neapo­lis star tri­bune

Wed­nes­day night’s 8567 up­set win over 23rdranked North Carolina was Texas’ big­gest win of the sea­son, and will go down as the Longhorns’ big­gest notch in their non­con­fer­ence belt. It wasn’t a great Tar Heels team, but for Texas to start and fin­ish hot — and not com­pletely crum­ble down the stretch — says a lot about the young Longhorns.

How the Longhorns won: Two 11-2 runs in the first half, and a strong fin­ish, pro­pelled Texas to its big­gest win of the sea­son. The Longhorns’ ac­tive hands pro­duced a sea­son-high 12 steals and forced 18 Tar Heels turnovers. And Texas’ 14-2 run to end the game put it away.

How the Tar Heels lost: Roy Wil­liams said his team lacked ag­gres­sive­ness and that the Longhorns were quicker to ev­ery loose ball. That’s true, and the Tar Heels lost plenty of hus­tle plays on the night. The Tar Heels are young, and it showed down the stretch.

Texas’ MVPs: Julien Lewis and Jonathan Holmes. Lewis (16 points) had two con­sec­u­tive out­stand­ing of­fen­sive plays in the sec­ond half af­ter the Tar Heels cut their deficit to 60-56. Holmes was highly ef­fi­cient, shoot­ing 6 of 9 from the floor, in­clud­ing 2 of 3 3-point­ers in a key first-half stretch. And he punched home a dunk to put Texas up by 13 with 1:07 to play, the ex­cla­ma­tion point on a 15point per­for­mance.

It was over when: Shel­don McClel­lan stole an er­rant sec­ond-half pass from North Carolina’s J.P. Tokoto. With Caro- ment were think­ing that Kabongo would re­ceive a 10-game sus­pen­sion.

If the Longhorns (7-4) — who play 20th-ranked Michi­gan State on Satur­day — are in­deed forced to play with­out Kabongo the rest of the sea­son, fresh­men Ja­van Felix and Demar­cus Hol­land will con­tinue to han­dle point guard re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Kabongo is re­garded as the team’s best de­fender. He also has the speed to lead fast break’s on of­fense that can pro­vide easy bas­kets for a team that strug­gles to score.

But the Longhorns man­aged to do that with­out him against Carolina, scor­ing 22 points more than their av­er­age be­fore the game.

The Longhorns beat lina down by four, 60-56, Tokoto fired a pass across the floor that McClel­lan picked off. He drove it to the other end, was fouled and sparked a 5-0 run to push the lead back to nine.

Big­gest sur­prise: The Longhorns flew out of the gate with an 8-0 run and led 11-2 four min­utes into the game.

Big­gest dis­ap­point­ment: The first-half play of North Carolina’s Michael McA­doo — on the pre­sea­son Wooden and Nai­smith awards watch lists. Sloppy ball han­dling, poor shot se­lec­tion and an in­abil­ity to get any­thing go­ing of­fen­sively. The former fives­tar re­cruit fouled out with 14 points and nine re­bounds.

Stat of the night: North Carolina shot a sea­son-low 31 per­cent; the Tar Heels had av­er­aged more than 84 points, but were held in check by the Longhorns. the Tar Heels 14-8 in fast­break points. Some of those were the re­sult of 18 Carolina turnovers.

Felix, de­spite lack­ing Kabongo’s speed, helped cre­ate the fast tempo that Barnes ex­horts.

“I thought Felix did a great job of con­trol­ling the ball,” Carolina coach Roy Wil­liams said. “They out­ran us. We like to say that we are a run­ning team, but Texas did a bet­ter job of push­ing the pace, get­ting us back on our heels.”

The Longhorns know that feel­ing. They’ve been back on their heels all sea­son, await­ing a de­ci­sion they may not like.

J.J. Barea ended Ok­la­homa City’s 12-game win­ning streak al­most all by him­self.

Play­ing with the tenac­ity that made him so im­por­tant to the Mav­er­icks’ run to the ti­tle two years ago, Barea scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quar­ter to lift the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves to a 99-93 vic­tory over the Thun­der on Thurs­day night.

Kevin Love had 28 points, 11 re­bounds and seven as­sists and Nikola Pekovic had 24 points and 10 re­bounds for Min­nesota. But it was Barea who was the key, scor­ing 12 straight at one point for the Wolves to hold off the team with the best record in the league.

Kevin Du­rant had 33 points, seven re­bounds and six as­sists and Rus­sell West­brook had 30 points, 11 re­bounds and nine as­sists for the Thun­der, who had not lost a game since Nov. 23 at Bos­ton.

That it was Barea, and not the Olympian Love or the sen­sa­tion Ricky Ru­bio who was chiefly re­spon­si­ble was the big­gest sur­prise of all.

Barea didn’t join the Tim­ber­wolves un­til train­ing camp had al­ready started last sea­son, then lan­guished through the first in­jury plagued year of his ca­reer. Fi­nally healthy, he’s get­ting back to the su­per pest that helped the Dal­las Mav­er­icks to the ti­tle two years ago

With the Thun­der charg­ing early in the fourth quar­ter, the small­est guy on the court played the big­gest.

Af­ter Du­rant’s two free throws cut Min­nesota’s lead to 80-77, Barea hit two 3s and scored on a put­back un­der the rim amid the tall trees, an 8-0 run by him­self that gave the Wolves a lit­tle breath­ing room. His long 3 with 5:26 to play made it 92-81, and the Wolves held on.

Barea was also a nui­sance on de­fense, draw­ing an of­fen­sive foul on Du­rant with 2:24 to play. The nor­mally su­per­cool Du­rant un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally lost his com­po­sure, pick­ing up a tech­ni­cal foul for ar­gu­ing the call as well.

Serge Ibaka had 14 points and nine re­bounds.

Alexey Shved had 12 points, 12 as­sists and seven re­bounds for the Wolves, who are try­ing to claw their way back to re­spectabil­ity af­ter years at the bot­tom of the West­ern Con­fer­ence.

Mav­er­icks: Dal­las point guard Derek Fisher will miss at least three games be­cause of a strained right knee.

The 38-year-old didn’t play Thurs­day night against Mi­ami and will skip a two-game trip to Mem­phis and San An­to­nio. The team says there is no timetable for his re­turn and Fisher will be re-eval­u­ated next week.

He was hurt in the first quar­ter of Tues­day’s win over the Philadel­phia 76ers.

Tim­ber­wolves: Min­nesota waived Josh Howard on Thurs­day af­ter an MRI re­vealed a torn ACL in the 32-year-old for­ward’s right knee. He was in­jured Fri­day at New Or­leans.

Texas’ Jonathan Holmes (left) and North Carolina’s Joel James bat­tle for a re­bound dur­ing the first half of their game on Tues­day.

The Tim­ber­wolves’ J.J. Barea cel­e­brates af­ter hit­ting a 3pointer late against the Thun­der on Thurs­day. Barea had 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quar­ter to lift Min­nesota to a 99-93 vic­tory.

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