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Game Preview: North Carolina @ Texas

HornSports Staff

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Article by Taylor Smith, HornSports contributor


The University of North Carolina presents the Texas Longhorns with their toughest challenge of the basketball season so far.

Texas is 5-3 overall but holds an undefeated record at home, 4-0. Playing overseas did not fare well with the Longhorns this year. Texas lost to Washington in China and two out of its three games in the Bahamas. Since returning, Texas is 3-0. The Longhorns defeated their last opponent, UTSA, 116-50, the eighth-largest margin of victory in school history.

UNC travels to Austin for the Saturday game ranked third, riding a four-game win streak. The Tar Heels recently beat then-No. 2 Maryland at home, 89-81 on Dec. 1. UNC was ranked No. 9 before the matchup against the Terrapins. The Tar Heels started the season No. 1 but lost to Northern Iowa in their fourth game of the season. The Tar Heels hold a 7-1 overall record.

Texas players and coaches know beating UNT presents a tough task.

“It’s certainly not going to be easy, but I think for our guys they’re excited to come out and play and see what we can do,”head coach Shaka Smart said after the UTSA game Tuesday night.

The players on this Texas team have never lost to UNC. The last time these two schools faced each other was the 2013-14 season in Chapel Hill, and Texas left North Carolina with an 86-83 victory. The only 2015-16 Tar Heel to have beaten Texas is junior guard Stilman White, who did so in the 2011-12 season as a freshman before he left on a two-year Mormon Mission.

Texas is 6-3 all-time against UNC, having won the last two meetings and six of the last seven. UNC head coach Roy Williams is 1-4 against Texas while coaching at UNC, but he is 7-5 overall, including his stint at Kansas.

The Longhorns will need to find a way to stop the Tar Heel’s senior guard Marcus Paige in order to keep their win streak alive. Paige returned to action on Dec. 1 against Maryland after watching the first six games of the season on the bench due to a broken bone in his right hand. Paige scored 20 points in his debut and received Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Player of the Week honors. Paige started the year as preseason Atlantic Cost Conference co-player of the year.

Texas is also coming off a high of its own. The Longhorns shot 65 percent against UTSA. Five players finished the game with double-figures in scoring. Senior center Cameron Ridley led the way with 19 points, and freshman guard Tevin Mack scored a career-high 17 points. The Longhorns need that confidence and rhythm to carry over to Saturday. In the Tar Heels’ eight games of the season, they shot 50 percent or better in five of them. Tip off is set for 4:15 CT on ESPN.

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Where the hell is the basketball thread? We are playing #1 and hanging with them and nobody is talkiking about it. Come on man. We are better with Taylor on the bench.

Exactly. Good game so far. We are looking like a team instead of one guy dribbling around for 28 seconds.

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