North Carolina v Texas

No. 23 North Carolina embarrassed by Texas

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Back when North Carolina lost to Indiana during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, I told you that, for the Tar Heels, the loss was “much, much worse than simply a blowout.”

Tony Reali agreed with me, and on Wednesday night, No. 23 UNC made us look smart as they went into Austin and got drubbed by a struggling Texas team, 85-67.

The loss, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily all that troubling. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you go on the road, you’re liable to catch a loss. Ask Marquette about that. Or Clemson. Or Oregon. They all lost road games to teams they probably shouldn’t be losing to, but that’s the risk you take when you travel, especially at the time of year when these college kids are finally done with finals and simply looking forward to getting home and spending some time with their families for the holidays.

To reiterate: the issue isn’t that North Carolina lost at Texas, regardless of how much Texas was struggling.

The issue is how they went about losing.

UNC was never really in this game. Texas jumped out to an 11-2 lead and extended that lead to 39-20 with four minutes left in the half. The Longhorns killed North Carolina in transition and carved up their half court defense when they finally were able to get the Longhorns slowed down. And this wasn’t like UNC was overmatched; it was a result of lazy, lethargic defense. The perfect example came with about seven minutes left in the half. Jonathon Holmes had just hit a three to put Texas up 28-18, and on the next possession on an out-of-bounds play under the basket, the Heels simply forgot to cover him. Holmes hit another three, and then buried a third straight jumper on the next possession. All of a sudden, the lead was at 15.

Making matters worse was that while Texas was destroying UNC’s defense, the Heels looked ragged offensively. UNC prides themselves on playing as fast as anyone in the country, but their is a system they are running while they are running the floor. Against Texas, there was no organization for UNC. There was, however, plenty of over-dribbling and questionable shot selection. It’s hard to appear rushed when the goal of your offense is to play as fast as possible, but that’s precisely what the Heels looked like. Never have their point guard issues been so evident.

UNC did make a run in the second half, getting with four at one point, but Texas answered with a run of their own. With the exception of one five minute stretch in the second half, this wasn’t a contest.

And that’s why the loss is so concerning.

UNC not only got blown out, but they did so while giving up 85 points to Texas — a team that can’t score and lost by 13 to Chaminade — as the Longhorns exploited each and every one of UNC’s weaknesses.

That’s a problem.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: