Previewing Texas

Texas enters the Smith Center on Wednesday having won five of the last six meetings with the Tar Heels. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPN2.

North Carolina (7-2) vs. Texas (9-1)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Wednesday, 7 p.m.
ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien, Doris Burke)


"Every game we always want to get to the glass. I do think that it will be a physical game. Depending on how it is called, it is going to be a physical game because we have to get to the glass, and they obviously feel the same way. I think they are getting 14 offensive rebounds a game, so that is obviously going to be a big part of it." – Texas head coach Rick Barnes

"Our confidence is very high right now. Even with the one loss against BYU, we bounced back with a win over DePaul, so our confidence level is very high right now." – Texas freshman guard Isaiah Taylor


Season to Date: Texas enters Wednesday's contest with a 9-1 record. The Longhorns won their opening four games before dropping an 86-82 contest to BYU on Nov. 25. Since that loss, Rick Barnes's squad has reeled off five consecutive victories, including an 81-80 overtime thriller at Temple on Dec. 7.

Balanced Scoring: While the Longhorns' shooting statistics don't jump off the page, their offensive success can be explained by five different players scoring in double figures. Junior forward Jonathan Holmes is leading the way with 12.9 points per game. At least four players have scored in double figures in eight consecutive contests.

Hoss in the Middle: Sophomore forward Cameron Ridley, who checks in at 6-foot-9 and 285 pounds, has developed into a steady presence on the interior. He's averaging team highs in rebounds (7.8) and blocks (2.9) per game to go along with 10.3 points on 55.6 percent shooting. On Monday, Barnes described Ridley as a "totally different player" from last season, citing improved conditioning and work ethic.

Long on the Glass: Texas ranks 13th nationally in rebounding margin (plus-9.7). The Longhorns have outrebounded nine of their first 10 opponents, including five by 10 or more boards. Four different players averaging at least 5.7 rebounds per game.

Young in the Backcourt: Texas will start a pair of freshman guards in Isaiah Taylor and Kendal Yancy against the Tar Heels. Taylor has started every game for the Longhorns at point guard, averaging 11.7 points and 3.8 assists per game. He's improved as the season has progressed, as evidenced by his 4:1 assist-turnover ratio over his last four games. Yancy (5.0 points on 50 percent shooting) has started Texas's last four games and five on the season. The 6-foot-3 guard has increased his minutes in recent weeks and turned in two of his best performances against Vanderbilt and Temple.

Stat to Watch: Despite being young, the Longhorns have shown an ability to respond to adversity late in games. Texas has rallied for wins in five games this season after falling behind in the second half. The Longhorns trailed by nine or more points in three of those contests.

Last Meeting: The Longhorns upset the 23rd-ranked Tar Heels, 85-67, in Austin on Dec. 19, 2012. Reggie Bullock led UNC with 18 points and 13 rebounds. UNC cut the deficit to four points in the second half before Texas pulled away late. Jonathan Holmes led the Longhorns with 15 points.

Series History: Texas leads the all-time series with UNC, 5-3.

Projected Starters:
1 Isaiah Taylor (6-1, 170, Fr.) - 11.7 ppg, 3.8 apg
0 Kendal Yancy (6-3, 200, Fr.) - 5.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
2 Damarcus Holland (6-2, 185, So.) - 11.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg
10 Jonathan Holmes (6-8, 240, Jr.) - 12.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg
55 Cameron Ridley (6-9, 285, So.) - 10.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg

Top Reserves:
3 Javan Felix (5-11, 195, So.) - 10.8 ppg, 3.1 apg
21 Connor Lammert (6-9, 235, So.) - 6.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg
44 Prince Ibeh (6-10, 250, So.) - 5.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg
5 Damarcus Croaker (6-2, 185, Fr.) - 4.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg

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(Photos courtesy USA Today Sports)

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