North Carolina v Texas

No. 23 North Carolina embarrassed by Texas


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.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.