A track meet first half followed by a scrum of a second half ended with the odds in Texas' favor, as the Longhorns held on to beat the North Carolina Tar Heels, 86-83. Demarcus Holland followed two missed free throws with an offensive board and bucket to provide the margin of victory, achieved only after a Marcus Paige three to tie rimmed in and out.
Jonathan Holmes turned in a gutsy double-double, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds. He subbed in and out in the second half despite suffering from heavy cramping. Backup Connor Lammert also posted double-digit rebounds, finishing with 10, though he sat most of the second half due to foul trouble.
Isaiah Taylor, freshman extraordinaire, led the team with 16 points, and Holland put in 15 of his own. After getting called for a flagrant 1 invisible elbow with under a minute to play, Taylor calmly sank two clutch free throws to negate the terrible foul call. Javan Felix once again played the role of irrational confidence guy. He scored three of Texas' final four buckets, pouring in 8 of his 12 points following the U-4 timeout.
Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh combined for just 14 points and 10 rebounds on the night, but provided an intimidating defensive presence inside. The defensive effort was strong tonight, and Texas head coach Rick Barnes deployed some innovative junk defenses to confuse a terrible shooting North Carolina team. The Tar Heels did manage to hit 9-19 from distance, but couldn't do much inside and struggled mightily from the line (24-47, 51%).
Texas wasn't much better from the charity stripe, ending the night around their average (20-33, 61%). That was about the only thing Texas did poorly this evening. Contributions were solid across the board, and the team reaped the reward from those efforts with a resume-boosting true road win. If you're still not watching, this team is for real and should make some noise in the Big 12. They're also mighty fun to watch.