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Off the cuff: The Texas game was one the Tar Heels should have won. While Texas was the aggressor at the beginning, the Heels settled down and looked like the better team until the last five minutes.

If nothing else, this game shows how valuable Tyler Zeller is to UNC. He probably stayed out too long after getting his fourth foul with just over six minutes to go. While he was out, over three and a half minutes, the Heels went from six up to one down.

As soon as he came back in, Zeller hit two key shots to put the Heels back up 73-70.

While Zeller's absence was a key, the tide may have turned when Carolina botched a three-on-one fastbreak opportunity, up by five with five minutes left. Drew tried a bounce pass to John Henson but Henson and Dexter Strickland were too jammed up together and the ball went off Strickland's foot and out of bounds.

There were two times I can think of when I almost blew a gasket watching Carolina basketball. One was when Eric Montross was bloodied by the Dukies and other was when Rick Barnes bitched out Dean Smith at the Greensboro Coliseum when he coached Clemson.

Barnes, the Texas coach, seemingly tried to apologize for that confrontation after this game. He praised Dean Smith on several occasions and said that he was a young coach at the time and he wished his argument with him had never happened.

Not really sure what to make of his comments all these years later but I suspect Smith's health issues has something to do with it. Nevertheless, it's better late than never.

Texas 78, Tar Heels 76
UNC loses heartbreaker in final seconds

North Carolina fell behind by 10 in the first half but came back to lead by seven in the second half before falling 78-76 on a on wild 17-footer by Texas' Corey Joseph with two seconds left. (12/18)

Carolina had tied the score on a Harrison Barnes three-pointer with 12 seconds left. After a timeout, Joseph dribbled into the foul circle, covered tightly by UNC's Dexter Strickland. Picking up the dribble, and with no place to go, Joseph twisted around and put up an arcing shot falling away and it rattled in.

The Heels got it upcourt and called timeout but only managed a desperation shot by Kendall Marshall that was way off. The play was set for Barnes. "We would have liked to see Harrison on the line shooting free throws with two seconds left," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "We had a set play hoping to get a foul called and it wasn't called."

While Texas was in foul trouble much of the game, it was UNC that was hurt down the stretch as Tyler Zeller picked up his fourth foul with six minutes to go. When he went out the Heels led 65-59 and when he came back in more than three minutes later the Heels trailed 70-69.

Zeller quickly made his presence known with two field goals inside to give Carolina a 73-70 lead with 1:45 left. In a span of one minute, Texas outscored the Heels 6-0 which included a big play after a timeout where Joseph dished to Thompson on set play and he dunked it for a 74-73 Texas lead with 45 seconds left. The Heels never led again.

It was a game of runs as Texas went on an 11-2 run in the first half that helped them to a 10-point lead. Carolina went on a 15-4 run late in the first half to take a 33-32 halftime lead. A modest 10-5 run by Carolina gave the Heels their biggest lead of the game at 47-40 with less than 15 minutes to go.

The Heels still led by seven with less than six minutes to play at 67-60 but the Longhorns finished out the runs by outscoring Carolina 18-9.

The No. 22-ranked Longhorns, paced by Jordan Hamilton's 24 points and Joseph's 21 points, move to 9-2 while the Tar Heels, led by Strickland's 18 and Barnes' 16, fall to 7-4.


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