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Nothing Could Be Finah: Texas Trounces Tarheels

Horns withstand North Carolina flurry to win by 18
Michael Corcoran, 10:37pm, Wed. Dec. 19, 2012
Photo courtesy of UT
Julien Lewis

The Texas Longhorns hoopsters recorded their first quality win of the season Wednesday, beating North Carolina (No. 23) 85-67 at the Erwin Center. Leading by 19 points early in the game, the Horns withstood a comeback from the Tarheels, who closed the lead to 4 with just over 7 minutes to play.

The Horns played intense defense and got terrific contributions on the offensive side by the team’s best players, sophomore forward Jonathan Holmes (15 pts, 8 reb.) and soph 2-guard Julien Lewis (16 pts). Sheldon McClelland added 18 pts, including key free throws down the stretch, but shot only 4-16 from the field. Eighteen-year-old Greek hustler Ioannis Papapetrou, a 6'8" forward who could start by season's end, grabbed 10 boards to match his 10 points.

Although point guard Javan Felix turned the ball over a few times late, as he did in the UCLA game, the freshman ran the offense with authority, cheered on by NCAA-investigated point guard Myck Kabongo, who looked like Sidney Poitier from “To Sir With Love” in his suit and tie. Citing a Yahoo Sports source, ESPN announcers said the NCAA will suspend Kabongo for the rest of the season, which means he's likely played his last game with the Horns. On the bench Wednesday, the Congo-born, Toronto raised player sure seemed like a diehard Longhorn; an appeal could be coming.

Coach Rick Barnes, the Hickory, NC native who's now beat North Carolina four out of five, should be pleased with the effort, as Horns players seemed to come up with most of the loose balls and were more active than the similarly-rebuilding Tarheels. Once freshman center Cameron Ridley starts playing like the 8th best player in the country out of high school, the Horns might be able to run with the best. They were certainly better last night than a 7-4 record that includes a blowout loss to Georgetown and a giveaway to UCLA..

So far this year the Horns are a bit of an enigma. Saturday they venture to Michigan, the home of another group of ? and the Mysterians, to take on Tom Izzo's Michigan State, ranked No. 20. The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 1 p.m.

NOTE: Tickets are on sale for the second and third round games of the NCAA basketball tournament to be held at the Erwin Center March 22 and 24. They're $180 and can be bought online at NCAA.com/MBBTickets or by calling 1-866-208-0048. If Texas makes March Madness, they won't play in Austin. Also, Horns season ticket holders will not get their usual seat if they buy tix to the tournament.

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