- Playing arguably the best game of his career, Javan Felix piles up 25 points, goes 5 for 7 from 3-point range.
- North Carolina coach Roy Williams is now 1-6 against the Longhorns in 13 seasons in Chapel Hill.
- Longhorns hit 12 of 24 3-pointers. Freshman Eric Davis goes 4 for 5, finishes with 16 points.
Posted December 12th, 2015
So far, Shaka Smart’s been a little unsure about his Texas Longhorns. He’s wondered about the players’ confidence, their swagger and whether they understood the process to transform into a winner.
“He’s the most confident man I’ve ever been around,” senior guard Javan Felix said. “We see that every day and it just rubs off on us.”
Felix said he didn’t feel any pressure when the ball floated to him in the final seconds Saturday. He corralled the offensive rebound, set his feet and turned loose a 18-footer that swished through the net as time expired.
Felix didn’t need to wait for the officials’ review. He knew it was money, as Texas bumped off third-ranked North Carolina, 84-82. The 16,540 fans who packed the sold-out Erwin Center went berserk. A fan base in desperate need of something positive got everything it wanted as Texas improved to 6-3.
Felix, playing arguably the best game of his career, finished with 25 points, three shy of his career high, and went 5 for 7 from 3-point range. “Felix was really, really big-time player for ‘em,” Roy Williams said. He’s now 1-6 against the Horns in 13 seasons with the Tar Heels. “Great moment for him.”
Texas guard Isaiah Taylor went even further. “I think this was a great win for us, for our university,” the junior said.
Texas has enjoyed some fantastic buzzer-beaters in recent memory, like Cam Ridley’s scoop-and-score against Arizona State win in the 2014 NCAA tournament and Jon Holmes’ 3-pointer at Connecticut last season. But this was the first home win over a top-five opponent since knocking off No. 2 Oklahoma in February 2009.
“Feels great,” Smart said. “Ever since we got here, they’ve really, really worked hard and been extremely receptive. But to be honest with you, there have been some growing pains and some transition pains, I think certainly for them.”
Smart said this type of win “validates the work they’ve put in and how receptive they’ve been.”
Smart talks about “eye-ball contracts” and how the player haven’t communicated like they should in practice. But the Horns were dialed in against North Carolina’s Marcus Paige, the co-ACC preseason player of the year, and the rest of the Tar Heels (7-2).
The entire second half was a seesaw battle. Every time North Carolina tried to pull away, Texas always had an answer. Brice Johnson’s layup gave the Heels a 64-59 lead. But Connor Lammert hit a 3-pointer, then Felix connected from long range, giving Texas a one-point lead.
Justin Jackson’s two free throws gave UNC a four-point lead with 5:45 remaining. Then, Taylor, already in foul trouble, drove for a layup. Felix hit two free throws and it was tied again.
Taylor took over down the stretch. His fallaway 3-pointer over Nate Britt was big. On the next possession, Taylor went head-to-head against Britt and scored again. He then threw a perfect pass to Cam Ridley for a layup and foul. Ridley converted the three-point play, and Texas lead 79-76 with 1:59 remaining.
“This game, and especially the second half, we kept our poise,” said Taylor, who finished with 18 points. Ridley ended up with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Eric Davis looked really impressive, going 4 for 5 from 3-point range and totaling up 16 points.
Johnson tied it up with 20 seconds left, but it merely set the stage for Taylor, Felix and the wild Longhorns finish. Smart didn’t call timeout. He merely let his Longhorns go for it.
“They were confident the shot was going to count,” Smart said. “I haven’t seen a replay yet, but I’m sure it was really close.”
Shaka Smart celebrates the Texas win pic.twitter.com/reVI7tA27a
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) December 13, 2015