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Off the cuff: Those old enough to remember Rick Barnes going face to face arguing with Dean Smith are hurting more than the whipper snappers.

Texas, with Barnes at the helm, have beaten the Heels four of the last five years - and to make matters worse, the Heels shouldn't have lost this one.

Sure, you can talk about intensity and effort, which Coach Roy Williams did, and you can talk about getting outrebounded, which Coach Williams did. But you have got to hit free throws.

It's almost like missing short field goals in football. If you can't hit those, as Williams would say, go play soccer.

It's really amazing that the Tar Heels had a chance to win in the last minute despite hitting only 24 of 47 free throws.

McAdoo's woes continue at the line but other players - except Marcus Paige - also joined in the free throw failure.

It makes you wonder if there was a lack of concentration because of all the off-court stuff going on earlier in the day.

The NCAA deemed Leslie McDonald eligible to play and while he didn't shoot free throws well either, the Tar Heels wouldn't have been in the game without him.

He hit four three pointers and finished second only to Paige in scoring with 15 points.

It would have been a better story of course if he had helped lead the Tar Heels to a victory. And if not for a bad call late, Carolina might just have sneaked away with a win.

With 25 seconds left and the Heels down by just four, Nate Britt and JP Tokoto trapped Texas' Isiah Taylor, who threw an elbow to get out of the jam.

But the official called a foul on Tokoto. Yes, after looking at the monitor, the officials also called a technical on Taylor. In looking at the replay, though, it was apparent that Tokoto did not commit a foul.

Had Taylor not been given two free throws, which he hit, Paige's late three would have given the Tar Heels an 83-82 lead with 12 seconds left.

Who knows what would have happened in those 12 seconds, but better to be up by one than down by one.

Texas 86, Tar Heels 83
Heel fail at the foul line again

North Carolina has lost to Texas four of the last five years but this one had to hurt most of all because it literally was due to poor foul shooting. The Tar Heels missed 23 free throws on the night and lost by just three points, 86-83. (12/18)

Despite trailing by 11 at the half at 53-42, Carolina was somehow able to come back to tie it at 72 with four minutes to go. But Texas' Javan Felix, who had missed nine of his previous 10 shots, suddenly got hot and scored eight points in two minutes - including two three pointers.

Down 82-77 with 1:06, the Heels made one last run. UNC's Nate Britt hit one of two free throws, Marcus Paige hit two free throws and, with just 12 seconds left, Paige swished a three to pull the Heels within a point at 84-83.

It appeared that the Tar Heels got the ball back with nine seconds left when Texas' Holland dribbled the ball off his foot out of bounds but the Heels had fouled first.

Holland missed both free throws but on the second the Tar Heels didn't box out the shooter and he slashed through the lane for the rebound and basket.

It appeared a Texas player interfered with the basket by grabbing the net on the play but it wasn't called and the basket stood.

With the score 86-83, Carolina had a last-second chance as Paige got a good look at a three but it rimmed out at the buzzer.

The offensive rebound that wrapped the game up was indicative of the game as Texas had 20 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Heels on the night 51-42.

The Tar Heels got an offensive lift when Leslie McDonald, cleared to play by the NCAA earlier in the afternoon, hit four three pointers and finished with 15 points.

As a team, Carolina hit nine of 19 three pointers. To compare, the Tar Heels hit nine threes in the previous five games combined.

After the game, UNC coach Roy Williams, who slammed his coat down in frustration at his team late in the game, was livid at the Carolina effort, especially in the first half. He said the Heels lacked intensity, effort and concentration.

As for the free throw shooting, "I'm tired of talking about free throws," Williams said. "You have to be tough enough to step up and knock the dad gum thing down or go play soccer or something."

Williams said he was "not in the dad-gum Christmas spirit." He told his team he wanted to have a practice at midnight but NCAA regulations wouldn't allow it. The earliest the team can practice is 5 a.m. and apparently that's what they are going to do.

Paige led the Tar Heels with 23 points as he was the only Heel who could shoot free throws as he went eight of eight. Conversely, James Michael McAdoo managed 11 points but only hit five of 15 free throws.

The Tar Heels, now 7-3, host Davidson Saturday.


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