North Carolina (10-2) vs. Texas (9-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
7:00pm -- ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien, Jay Bilas)
“I don’t think I can prepare the freshmen for the environment other than taking them into it. It will be a great atmosphere, but we have to go in and get going. Once we get going we will see how they handle it. We might as well get accustomed to it in this game, because with our schedule we will be seeing hostile environments from here on out.” – Texas head coach Rick Barnes
“Coach [Roy Williams] is very competitive, and he wants to win. So I think he’s fired up, and we have to match their intensity tomorrow, we have to come out and play. They beat us three times in a row, and it’s about time we win.” – UNC guard Dexter Strickland
“It is one of the games you notice on the schedule at the beginning of the year, especially with UNC’s preseason ranking (No. 1). From day one we have been excited about it. If you are a basketball fan, you know about their tradition and you know exactly what UNC means to college basketball. Being a part of Texas Basketball gives you the opportunity to play teams like UNC.” – Texas center Clint Chapman
Season to Date: Texas enters Wednesday night’s contest with a 9-2 record. The Longhorns split their first four games with wins over Boston University (82-46) and Rhode Island (100-90) and losses to Oregon State (100-95, OT) and N.C. State (77-74). Since then, head coach Rick Barnes’s squad has won seven straight with victories over Sam Houston State, North Texas, UCLA, UT Arlington, Texas State, Nicholls State and Temple.
Brown Taking Charge: Junior guard J’Covan Brown understood that he would the go-to scorer on a very young Longhorn team and he’s owned up to that responsibility by averaging 19.3 points per game with six 20-point outings. The Preseason All-Big 12 selection is also averaging 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game while shooting 45.8 percent (77-of-168) from the floor, including a 35.2 percent mark (25-of-71) from 3-point range.
Kabongo Directing: It took freshman point guard Myck Kabongo several outings to adjust to the college game, but the Toronto native has come into his own over his last six games. During that stretch, he has averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds while knocking down 56.1 percent of his field goal attempts. For the season, Kabongo is averaging 10.8 points and a team-high 6.0 assists, while delivering a solid 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio (66-to-33).
Youth in Bunches: Barnes has nine recruited scholarship players on his roster this season and six of those Longhorns are members of the nation’s top-five recruiting class that matriculated during the summer. Guard Sheldon McClellan has come off the bench to score 11.5 points per game on 51.8 percent shooting, while guard Julien Lewis (9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and forward Jonathan Holmes (9.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) join Kabongo in the starting lineup. Backup forward Jaylen Bond has found a groove in his past two outings, averaging 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds while connecting on 15 of his 19 field goal attempts. Guard Sterling Gibbs rounds out the sextet and is averaging 3.4 points in 9.7 minutes per contest.
Defense Picking Up: While Texas’s seven-game winning streak lacks any quality victories, it is worth noting that the Longhorns have held those opponents to 53.6 points per game on a combined 33.2 field goal percentage. On the season, Texas is allowing opponents to shoot 36.5 percent from the floor, while also averaging 7.0 steals per game.
Know Thy Enemy: Dean Melchionni has only played nine minutes this season for the Longhorns, but his name will likely pique the interest of Tar Heel fans. His brother, of course, is former Duke Blue Devil Lee Melchionni (’03-‘06).
Last Meeting: Cory Joseph drained a jumper from the top of the key with 1.4 seconds remaining to give Texas a dramatic 78-76 win on Dec. 18, 2010. Harrison Barnes drilled a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie the game for North Carolina. Dexter Strickland led UNC with 18 points, while Barnes added 16.
Series History: Texas leads the all-time series with North Carolina, 4-2. The Longhorns have won four straight against the Tar Heels.
12 Myck Kabongo (6-1, 169, Fr.) - 10.8 ppg, 4.7 apg
14 J'Covan Brown (6-1, 197, Jr.) - 19.3 ppg, 4.3 apg
0 Julien Lewis (6-3, 190, Fr.) - 9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
10 Jonathan Holmes (6-7, 239, Fr.) - 9.3 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 5.5 rpg
20 Alexis Wangmene (6-7, 241, Sr.) - 6.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg
1 Sheldon McClellan (6-4, 200, Fr.) - 11.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
53 Clint Chapman (6-10, 245, Sr.) - 5.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg
2 Jaylen Bond (6-7, 224, Fr.) - 5.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg
13 Sterling Gibbs (6-1, 185, Fr.) - 3.4 ppg, 1.0 apg
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