Carolina rallies but falls at the buzzer

ASHEVILLE – Over the last few years, North Carolina has lost to Texas by three points or fewer six times. Make that seven. The Tar Heels got down by 14 in the first half and fought back to take a late lead but a step back jumper at the buzzer gave the Longhorns a 69-67 win in the finals of the Maui Invitational Tournament. (12/2) With the score tied at 67 following a pair of free throws by UNC’s Leaky Black, Texas’ Matt Coleman dribbled out the last 25 seconds and hit the jumper over Carolina freshman R.J. Davis for […]

ASHEVILLE – Over the last few years, North Carolina has lost to Texas by three points or fewer six times. Make that seven. The Tar Heels got down by 14 in the first half and fought back to take a late lead but a step back jumper at the buzzer gave the Longhorns a 69-67 win in the finals of the Maui Invitational Tournament. (12/2)

With the score tied at 67 following a pair of free throws by UNC’s Leaky Black, Texas’ Matt Coleman dribbled out the last 25 seconds and hit the jumper over Carolina freshman R.J. Davis for the win.

The Tar Heels, who led 15-10 early, suffered through a 24-5 Texas run in the first half, highlighted by five straight Longhorn three-pointers and a number of missed free throws by the Tar Heels.

Down by 12 at the half, Carolina fought back quickly in the second half and got the deficit down to two or fewer points six times without being able to tie or take a lead. But with 2:34 left, Garrison Brooks sank a 10-footer to give the Heels a 65-63 lead.

The Longhorns’ Andrew Jones tied it with a 20 footer seconds later. Each team failed on their next possessions. After UNC freshman Caleb Love missed a three badly with 50 seconds left, Carolina got the ball out of bounds but with less than a second left on the shot clock.

A lob on the inbounds was tipped away and turned into Jones fastbreak dunk on the other end to put Texas up 67-65. That’s when Black tied it with free throws, setting up Coleman’s heroics.

Carolina missed eight free throws in the first half and six in the second half, including two late, to go just 18 of 32 from the line. Plus, the Tar Heels turned the ball over 13 times, including 11 in the first half when getting so far behind.

“We dug ourselves a big hole by not making free throws and turning the ball over,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “You can’t play from behind like we did to a good team today.”

Love and Davis, Carolina’s freshman guards, turned the ball over seven times. Love failed to get an assist, missed all four of his three-point attempts and hit only two of 13 total shots.

“I looked up one time and we had four freshman on the court,” Coach Williams said, adding that they deserved the playing time based on what they’ve done in practice. “But they’ve got to grow up… they’ve got to grow up quickly.”

Brooks, a senior who led the Tar Heels with 18 points, said the team is working everyday to get better with the younger guys blending with the older. “We’re still one of the best teams in the country when we don’t turn the ball over and we play hard,” he said.

Carolina, 3-1, plays at Iowa Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

For a box score and more commentary on the game, please click here.