Coach Roy Williams has built this North Carolina team with the same basic concepts he has constructed other successful Tar Heels teams. Guard Marcus Paige is an absolute nightmare to cover on offense, as he can lead the break with his long-striding speed and flashes into the paint for easy layups. Texas coach Rick Barnes does not have a single defender who can slow Paige down, and that means double-teams will leave other players open.
This will play right into the Tar Heels’ plans, as supporting players are beginning to emerge as offensive threats. J.P. Tokoto has taken his game up to another level, as he has scored in double-digits in three of his last five games. Along with Tokoto, junior James Michael McAdoo is coming off an impressive game against Kentucky. He scored 21 points and now has two straight games with more than 10 points after not reaching that mark in his previous four games.
Texas will have to show it can compete with easily the best team on its schedule up to this point in the season. Texas only has one loss — Brigham Young University — but has been less-than-stellar in building a 9-1 record. The Longhorns have been in tight contests with Mercer, South Alabama and Texas-Arlington. Texas did defeat Temple (81-80) on the road as it’s lone impressive victory. The Longhorns are led by junior Jonathan Holmes, who averages about 13 points and seven rebounds per game. He is part of a five-man group who average at least 10 PPG; that may be Texas’ best trait. If the Longhorns stand any chance against the Tar Heels, this balance on offense will have to travel well. The pace will also be a major factor. North Carolina will run all game long and Texas will either have to keep up or drag out its offensive possessions. It is likely that Barnes will attempt to keep up early, and if Texas hangs around, he will slowly turn down the pace in the second half with hopes of frustrating the Tar Heels.
So far, much better coaches than Barnes — Rick Pitino, John Calipari and Tom Izzo — have had little success figuring out the Heels. That reason alone should explain why North Carolina will run away with this game. This is an important game for North Carolina to prove how they handle opponents after a big win. There is no excuse for the Tar Heels if they fall to Texas.
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