Everything is bigger in Texas, and the Longhorns basketball team outmuscled and generally beat up North Carolina 103-90 on Saturday.
The first basketball game held at the enormous new Dallas Cowboys football stadium, the Horns and Heels tipped off for a nationally televised game in which two things were confirmed: Texas is a potential national title contender, and, this year, North Carolina probably is not.
The Heels simply didn’t have any answers for Texas center Dexter Pittman — all 6-feet-10, 290 pounds of him. Pittman bullied the tall-but-skinny Heels inside for 23 points and 15 rebounds.
By far, the most alarming statistic of the day for UNC was the rebounding disparity. The Heels almost always have rebounded well under Roy Williams — who places a great deal of emphasis on crashing the glass — yet Carolina allowed Texas to get a staggering 29 offense rebounds, as part of a 60-41 overall advantage.
That kind of physical anemia isn’t what everyone is accustomed to seeing from the Tar Heels, and especially given that the frontline is considered to be the strongest component of the team.
But the news didn’t get much better at wing forward, where UT’s Damion James went for 25 points and 15 rebounds of his own. This was the second occasion this season — Syracuse wing Wesley Johnson being the first — that an opposing player at that position torched a hapless Carolina defense.
The problem is that Will Graves, John Henson and the Wear twins simply do not have the footspeed to defend quick perimeter players, and Marcus Ginyard has been spending most of his time in the backcourt. The personnel issues involved are unlikely to be solved anytime soon, so perhaps the most enduring hope is that Carolina may not encounter any ACC teams as talented as the clubs that have beaten them: Texas, Kentucky and Syracuse.
Carolina sophomore Ed Davis was one of the day’s few positives. Though certainly a victim of Pittman on several occasions, he amassed 21 points, nine rebounds and four blocks on 9-for-13 shooting from the field.
Freshman guard Dexter Strickland also had his moments and continues to exhibit greater confidence, going for 12 points and three assists.
On the other hand, Ginyard and point guard Larry Drew struggled badly, committing nine of the team’s 16 turnovers, including (especially in Ginyard’s case) several live ball errors that resulted in an easy two points for the Longhorns.
Ultimately, Carolina was fortunate not to get blown out considering the rebounding disadvantage and the fact that Texas had four players score at least 20 points.
The Heels now will lick their wounds and return home, where the schedule eases for a couple weeks prior to the open of ACC competition. The next game will take place on Tuesday versus Marshall in Chapel Hill.
To see the UNC/UT box score, click here.