Harrison Barnes

CBS TV—North Carolina suffered a crushing defeat this evening against Texas in Greensboro, allowing a second half lead to evaporate late as the Longhorns escaped with a 78-76 victory. The game was a rematch of last year, when UNC was manhandled by Texas in Dallas at the new Cowboys stadium.

But this one was much different, and much worse. The Tar Heels fell behind early in the first half but clawed their way to a one-point lead at halftime. They expanded upon that in the second half and appeared to be in control with about 10 minutes to play, but at that point UNC’s offense broke down and Texas was able to chip away at the Heels’ slight advantage.

You’re going to see vociferous howls from the UNC fanbase for several days. Frankly, I have to agree. Freshman point guard Kendall Marshall was the key piece for Carolina during the team’s most successful second half stretch, but he went to the bench in favor of embattled junior Larry Drew, who was completely ineffective.

Marshall finished with seven points, three rebounds and three assists with only one turnover, while Drew shot 0-for-3 from the field and committed four turnovers with only three assists, eventually fouling out. The most alarming aspect of the point guard scenario for the fanbase is that Drew played 25 minutes while Marshall played only 15 — and some of those resulted only from Drew’s foul trouble.

But it’s never as simple as isolating one position. Carolina shot just 27 percent on threes and had more turnovers and fewer rebounds, issues that mostly did not involve Drew. Three players who did step up offensively were Dexter Strickland (18 points, 6-for-10 shooting, three assists, no turnovers), Harrison Barnes (16 points, 5-for-10 field goals) and Tyler Zeller (14 points, seven rebounds).

And Carolina’s defense did hold Texas to 44 percent. The problem was that UNC also shot 44 percent, and the Heels couldn’t hit the baskets late they desperately needed.

Controversies notwithstanding, the next action for UNC will be on Tuesday at home against William & Mary. To see the UNC/Texas box score, click here.