Texas hangs on to beat No. 14 North Carolina in Chapel Hill

4 Comments

Just about any preseason “hot seat” list included Texas head coach Rick Barnes, and with the change in athletic director on the “40 Acres” there was enough conversation to make one think that this season would be nothing more than a lengthy testimonial of sorts for the veteran coach. With just two upperclassmen, bouncing back from last season’s disappointing campaign looked to be a difficult task.

But the Longhorns entered Wednesday night’s game at No. 14 North Carolina with a 9-1 record, and thanks to their work on the boards and two big shots in crunch time from guard Javan Felix they were able to knock off the Tar Heels 86-83. Isaiah Taylor led four Texas players in double figures with 16 points, but Texas essentially won this game in two areas: on the boards, and when North Carolina went to the foul line.

Of Texas’ 51 rebounds 20 were of the offensive variety as they managed to rebound 42.6% of their missed shots. Jonathan Holmes and Connor Lammert, who finished with ten rebounds apiece, combined for 11 of those 20 offensive rebounds on the night. Texas outscored North Carolina 40-16 in the paint, an impressive margin when considering just how young Barnes’ team is.

And as the case was in North Carolina’s loss to Belmont last month, the Tar Heels left entirely too many points on the board at the charity stripe. The Tar Heels attempted 47 free throws, 14 more than Texas, but made just 24 of those shots. To have that kind of edge and only outscore your opponent by four points from the foul line will lead to a loss more times than not in close games, and that was certainly the case for North Carolina.

North Carolina has three high-caliber wins on their resume already, and Wednesday’s result is a reminder that for all the optimism that came as a result of their win over No. 11 Kentucky on Saturday there are still adjustments to be made. And, the Tar Heels aren’t talented enough to win games against quality opponents shooting as they did from the foul line or allowing teams to rebound more than 40% of their missed shots.

How good is Texas? Prior to Wednesday’s victory their best wins (computer-wise) were over Stephen F. Austin and Temple, and the Owls were busy being lit up by Texas Southern’s Aaric Murray in a one-point loss to the Tigers. So this clearly was a result the Longhorns needed as the start of Big 12 play approaches, and they’ll have many chances to pick up more quality wins given the strength of the conference.

Texas may have lost some talented players at the end of last season, but this current group has better chemistry and they play with more effort than a season ago. Will that be enough to get the Longhorns back to the NCAA tournament? That remains to be seen, but thanks to those changes Texas at the very least has a shot to do so. And that wasn’t something many people expected back in October.

VIDEO: Colorado’s McKinley Wright gets a friendly bounce with buzzer-beater to beat Quinnipiac

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The iron was kind to Colorado’s McKinley Wright, as he was able to get a game-winning three at the buzzer to drop as the Buffaloes avoided an embarrassing loss to Quinnipiac in the opener of the Paradise Jam:

https://twitter.com/FloHoops/status/931690797992472576/video/1

Colorado was down by as many as 13 points in the second half, using a 23-9 run to close the game and escape with the 70-69 win.

Guy’s 29 lead Virginia past VCU, 76-67

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Leave a comment

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Guy was never hesitant when Virginia needed a basket, and because he wasn’t, the Cavaliers were able to hold off VCU, 76-67 on Friday.

Guy scored a career-best 29 points and hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes after the Rams closed to within three, bringing roars from a soldout crowd at the Seigel Center. The first 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a 66-60 lead, and the next one pushed it to 74-67 with just 41 seconds remaining.

“It was a blast,” Guy said. “This is one of the better environments I’ve played in.”

The Cavaliers won by taking care of the ball, committing only five turnovers, and by cashing in on VCU’s mistakes. The Rams turned the ball over a dozen times, and Virginia outscored them 16-2 off turnovers and 18-0 on fast break points. Those advantages helped them overcome a 36-26 rebounding disadvantage.

The Cavaliers (3-0) also made 10 3-pointers, with Guy accounting for half of them.

“Any time you’ve got a guy like that, get him going early and he becomes a buzz-saw,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said of Guy.

“We got some good looks and then Kyle put on a heck of a shooting clinic with the shots he was making,” coach Tony Bennett said.

Ty Jerome also hit from long range in the closing minutes after VCU (2-1) closed to within 68-64 with just over 2 minutes remaining.

After Guy made it 66-60 with 2:55 to play, Issac Vann scored made it 66-62 with a driving basket, but Guy hit a pair of free throws and, after a driving basket by Williams, Jerome followed with his third 3-pointer of the game. Jerome added 13 points and seven assists for Virginia.

Vann led VCU with 19 points, Johnny Williams had 14 and Khris Lane 12.

“If you told me 48 hours ago, three days ago, four days ago it would be a 2-minute game, one-possession game, 2 minutes, I would have taken it,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “… I want this to sting for about an hour. Make it hurt for an hour and let’s use this and get better.”

The Rams left after the game for Hawaii and the Maui Invitational.

“It’s a tough loss, a learning experience and we’ve got more basketball coming up this week,” Vann said.

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers had little trouble with VCU’s pressure, turning the ball over just five times and outscoring the Rams 16-2 off turnovers. They also outscored the Rams 18-0 on fast break points, but they were beaten on the backboards 36-26. VCU had 10 offensive rebounds, but just six second-chance points.

VCU: The Rams averaged 94.5 points in their first two games, but are still working to integrate what first-year coach Mike Rhoades wants them to do on offense and defense. Johnny Williams can be a force driving to the basket, and transfer Vann gives them another quality 3-point shooter. They cam,e into the game forcing an average of 14 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Virginia is at home on Sunday against Monmouth.

VCU faces Marquette in the Maui Invitational on Monday.

Pro golfer, Wisconsin fan Steve Stricker does not like J.P. Macura

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wisconsin resident, Badger fan and pro golfer Steve Stricker was not happy after UW lost to Xavier on Thursday night.

For starters, his team lost.

That sucks.

Then J.P. Macura went and rubbed it in everyone’s face, doing the Gator Chomp at the student section after he threw down an alley-oop with less than a minute left:

Stricker was not having any of it:

Me?

I loved it.

And maybe, just maybe, the fact that Wisconsin’s entire student section spent the game telling Macura that he’s an a****** had something to do with his reaction.

Also … how many middle fingers do you see in this picture?

Thank you Badger fans. What a hostile environment.. I appreciate the love

A post shared by Jp Macura (@jpmacura) on

Lonnie Walker hurt as No. 11 Hurricanes beat A&M 90-59

Eric Espada/Getty Images
Leave a comment

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker IV twisted his left ankle Thursday night, and coach Jim Larranaga was sore himself after the latest lopsided win by the 11th-ranked Miami Hurricanes.

Larranaga said Walker wasn’t seriously hurt, and the coach seemed more concerned about his team’s effort and focus in a 90-59 victory over Florida A&M.

“I didn’t think we were very good from start to finish,” Larranaga said. “We need to play a whole lot harder, and better defensively. We looked sluggish. I told the team I was extremely disappointed in our effort.”

Walker was assisted to the locker room in the first half after stepping on another player. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play La Salle next Wednesday in Walker’s hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.

“We won’t know for a couple of days, but I think he’s fine,” Larranaga said.

Is he likely to play in the next game?

“Oh, he’s going to play in Reading,” Larranaga said.

Trump urges 3 UCLA players to thank China leader for release

Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump urged three suspended UCLA basketball players on Thursday to thank China’s president for their freedom after they shoplifted in China.

The president’s suggestion came a day after he tweeted: “Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you President Trump. They were headed for 10 years in jail.”

The trio apologized that day and publicly thanked Trump, who was in Asia last week, for his help. On Thursday morning, the president sent another tweet: “You’re welcome. go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible.”

In the same tweet, Trump said, “HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”

Later in the day, as he rallied House Republicans before a crucial vote on a tax overhaul, Trump talked about his efforts to release the players

Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas said Trump “personally engaged the Chinese president and it turned out the way it did,” with the players released. He said China is known for being “extremely punitive” with criminal suspects, adding: “This could have been a disaster for those families.”

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were detained in Hangzhou for questioning last week before the Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai. The rest of the team returned home Saturday.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said the shoplifting occurred when the team had 90 minutes of free time on Nov. 6 in Hangzhou. He said the three took items from three stores.

The players are suspended indefinitely, and coach Steve Alford says they will have to earn their way back onto the team.