Upset win over Tar Heels elevates young Longhorns
Texas started and finished hot, and did not crumble during the stretch.
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.