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Texas thwarts UNC comeback with a buzzer beater to win Maui Invitational

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Can we just agree to never play Texas again please?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 29 Maui Invitational - North Carolina Practice Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I said that every game couldn’t be as ugly as last night’s win over Stanford, and UNC tried their best to prove me wrong. Unfortunately, their attempt at a comeback fell short as the Longhorns scored with 0.1 left on the clock to break a 67-67 tie and claim the Maui Invitational championship.

To their credit, the Tar Heels fought back. Texas punched them in the mouth in the first half to the tune of a 40-28 deficit at halftime. Carolina roared back to open the second half on a 12-2 run, but they never seemed able to get over the hump late in the game. They mostly hung a point or two behind, which was especially brutal considering their 18-32 mark from the free throw line.

The Longhorns hit nine three-pointers to UNC’s one. Turnovers in the first half were very lopsided in their favor with the Heels turning it over 10 times in the first 20 minutes. They were able to take care of the ball better in the second half, turning it over just four times, but 15 of Texas’ points came off those miscues. In addition to winning the turnover battle, the Longhorns stole the ball ten (yes, that is correct) times.

Carolina was dominant on the offensive boards, besting Texas 20-8 in that category, but their 56% shooting from the free throw line undermined a lot of their success there. The long ball just wouldn’t fall with Caleb Love missing all four of his shots and RJ Davis missing both of his attempts.

On the scoring front, Garrison Brooks led the way with 18 points. The senior really went through it in the game, turning his ankle badly on two separate occasions. He had seven rebounds to go with his scoring. Armando Bacot also had a very good game with a double-double of 10 points and 12 boards. Love and Davis finished in double figures as well. Leaky Black played a big underrated part in the Heels being close at the end with eight points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and just one turnover.

It certainly didn’t help matters that Carolina was ice cold to close out the game, failing to score a field goal in the last 2:35 and missing all but one of their last seven shots. If even one or two of those goes in we’re having a different conversation, but here we are.

Having an abundance of freshmen is going to case growing pains in even the best year. Add in the oddities of 2020 and not having normal practice time or exhibition games and the growing pains early on are going to be even more pronounced than normal. That being said, this team showed a lot of fight. This is a game that it feels like they might have lost last year by upwards of 15 points or more. There is a resiliency that this young team has shown already that is very impressive, and they don’t seem likely to just lay down on the mat and refuse to get up when adversity strikes. That should pay off as we move into the new year.

The road doesn’t get easier for the Heels, though. UNC will be back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Iowa City to take on #3 Iowa.