The Longhorns notched head coach Shaka Smart’s first signature win as head coach on a buzzer-beater by senior guard Javan Felix.
Here are five thoughts from the victory:
These Longhorns got fight
No. 3 North Carolina had multiple chances to put this game away. The Tar Heels took an early 7-0 lead to start the game and held an eight-point lead late in the first half.
But the Longhorns had an answer for every run. They quickly rebounded to cut the initial deficit to 9-7 and a late jumper by freshman guard Eric Davis trimmed the halftime score to 44-42.
And when North Carolina made a jumper with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game, Texas answered when Felix grabbed a rebound and put up a shot just before the clock hit zero.
“I think this was a great win for us and for our university just to get us going in nonconference,” junior guard Isaiah Taylor said.
Taylor takes over late
While Felix might steal the headlines, Taylor set him up for that game-winning shot.
After struggling in the first 20 minutes, including two offensive fouls, Taylor took over the game in the late minutes. He scored 13 of his 18 points in the final half and dished out three assists in the last 10 minutes, including a pass to senior center Cam Ridley that led to an and-one.
Head coach Shaka Smart said Taylor is their “most dynamic player.”
“Even if he’s not scoring then he gets the ball to different places,” Smart said. “He’s a very good passer.”
Dealing with foul trouble
The NCAA placed a high priority on referees calling games close, particularly on the defense and it nearly bit the Longhorns again like it had earlier in the season.
Texas put North Carolina into the bonus with 13:49 left in the game and senior center Prince Ibeh fouled out with 7:36 left. The Longhorns got hit with a number of offensive fouls as well, including a charge before a made 3-pointer to take the lead in the first half.
Both teams combined for 45 fouls on the night.
Missing from the charity stripe
Texas probably wouldn’t have needed a late-game jumper to pull out the win if it had made its free throws.
The Longhorns hit just 13-of-24 shots from the free-throw line, including a 1-for-4 start. And with a one-and-one situation down the stretch, Ridley made just one-of-two shots, which would have put pressure on North Carolina to hit a three in its last possession.
Erwin Center en fuego
Four days ago, the Frank Erwin Center was practically empty and, aside from the last five minutes of the game versus UTSA, practically dead.
But with the Tar Heels in town, fans packed the Erwin Center and made their presence known in the waning moments of the game. Almost all of the 16,540 people in attendance remained on their feet for the last four minutes of the game.
Davis said they need that energy in the building more often.
“We had a great fan showing today,” Davis said. “I think this is more reason for fans to come out to the game. If we get that energy, it gives us a better chance of winning.”
Up next: vs. Appalachian State, Tuesday, 7 p.m., Longhorn Network