Rick Barnes’ history against UNC goes back a long way. Early in Barnes’ coaching career, he famously clashed with Dean Smith while the now Tennessee coach was at Clemson.
While there are certainly fans who have never forgiven or forgotten, the hostilities have seemingly died down over the years. Barnes and Roy Williams are friendly with each other and their teams have played regularly in non-conference games since Williams has come to UNC.
While it’s not at a level of Williams against Tom Izzo (at least until this year), Barnes has had a decent amount of success against Williams’ UNC teams. With a top 25 matchup between the two coaches looming, lets look back at the their history against each other.
The two first meet each other in Barnes’ first year at Texas in 1999. The Longhorns went on to win the Big 12 regular season title that year, but Williams took the only matchup between the two that season, winning by nine in Lawrence.
That’s mostly how it played out in Williams’ time at Kansas. When he left to come to Chapel Hill, Roy led the head-to-head 4-1. The last of those games saw a #3 ranked Texas team go into Allen Fieldhouse and lose by three, which is seemingly the story of the everyone in the Big 12’s history against Kansas: good, but still lose to the Jayhawks.
When Williams’ moved to Chapel Hill, there started to be a swing in the matchup. In his first year, the two teams met in the second round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Texas held Carolina to just 38% shooting, and Sean May played just 25 minutes before eventually fouling out. However, Barnes and the Longhorns still only won the game by three.
The two teams first played a regular season game against each other in the first ever basketball game at Cowboys Stadium in December 2009. Texas won by 13 in what looked like a regulation game where the #2 team in the country held serve at home-ish against the #10 team in the country. However, you’re probably aware of what happened to the 2010 Carolina team. Texas did make the tournament that year, but dropped from the #2 ranking in the country to a eight seed and a first round loss to Wake Forest.
The following season saw another “neutral” site game as Texas came to play Carolina in Greensboro. The Longhorns came away with another win after Cory Joseph hit a jumper with 1.4 seconds left to win a third straight over UNC.
The Tar Heels broke the streak the following season, crushing Texas in Chapel Hill. Harrison Barnes went for 26 and 10 as UNC won by 19. The Longhorns returned the favor the next year in Austin with an 18-point win, and won a 2013 game in the Smith Center by three.
The teams did not meet in 2014-15, which would be Barnes’ final season at Texas. He quickly settled in at the Tennessee job, and Williams and Barnes’ teams resumed playing last season. Carolina came in as a highly-rated team, and Tennessee looked to be in the middle of a rebuilding year. However, it ended up looking like one of the UNC-Texas games.
UNC won the game, but it wasn’t the prettiest. A Joel Berry-less Tar Heels’ team trailed by eight at halftime, as Justin Jackson went 3-15 from the field. Tony Bradley blocked a layup with two seconds left as Carolina snuck away with a two-point win.
Flash forward a year, and now it looks a lot like the UNC-Texas games. UNC is a legitimate top 10 team, and Tennessee comes in ranked in the top 25.
Just doing a quick look through of the box scores of the games since Williams has come back to Carolina, the games Texas won, they’re mostly games where they’ve almost out UNC-ed UNC on the stat sheet. They’ve won the rebounding battle and put up a bunch of points. Specifically in that one in Cowboys Stadium, Texas got 60 rebounds.
Tennessee’s rapid rise into the top 25 was semi-unexpected this season, and it’s possible they’re not quite that good. It’s also possibly that they’re legit, and Rick Barnes will continue his weird run of success against Roy Williams.