Heels ready to lock 'Horns

DENVER, Colo. – It's been said that everything is bigger in Texas. Much has been made about a so-called size advantage the third-seeded Longhorns will have when they take on North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at the Pepsi Center.

But, the Tar Heels are actually taller across the board.

Of course 6-foot-8 Brian Boddicker will likely see more time off the bench than Reyshawn Terry (6-7 ½), Byron Sanders (6-9) or Justin Bohlander (6-8), but all three of the Tar Heels' big men in reserve are serviceable. Texas (24-7) can also send out 6-8 senior James Thomas, and with the exception of Sean May and not including Damion Grant, UNC's true post players will give up considerable beef.

Granted Boddicker's versatility and range could present a problem for the UNC defense, but Jawad Williams is capable of extending the defense with his outside shooting as well.

"I played with Brian Boddicker last summer," said May, who scored 14 points in the win over Air Force. "Before that I didn't know he could shoot the way he can. For his size he is able to step out and shoot, so it is going to present a great challenge for us."

The Tar Heels (19-10) will have to guard the perimeter like never before, while not allowing penetration down the middle either.

Texas converted 11-of-15 three-pointers in Thursday's win over Princeton, setting school and NCAA Tournament records with 73 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

However in what should be a baseline-to-baseline track meet, Carolina's guards could make the difference, especially Raymond Felton who will be the only true point on guard on the court for both teams.

"We know their style of play, but I am never comfortable this time of year," said UT guard Brandon Mouton, who scored 23 points in the Longhorns' win over Princeton. "Each game is tough and we have our hands full. We have to be focused and intense, because UNC will bring that."

Both coaches have downplayed their involvement, and the history behind the fiery Barnes and UNC patriarch Dean Smith – Roy Williams' mentor.

"I have a good relationship with Coach Barnes," said Williams, who is 6-1 versus Barnes and Texas.

"I have great respect for UNC," added Barnes, who was 1-9 versus the Tar Heels during his four years at Clemson.

But it would almost be a disservice to fans if these two didn't go at it at some point, especially if the competition gets as hot as is expected.

This game marks the fourth meeting between the two schools, with the Tar Heels holding 2-1 advantage in the series that dates back to 1992-93. In the first match-up, UNC posted a 104-68 victory in the Diet Pepsi Tournament of Champions in Charlotte on Dec. 4, 1992. Tow years later, the two teams opened the regular season on Nov. 26, 1994 with then-No. 2 North Carolina recording 96-92 win in the Smith Center. In the last meeting on Dec. 30, 1995, center Sonny Alvarado had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead unranked Texas to a 74-72 victory against No. 14 North Carolina in Austin.

The winner of Saturday's game will advance to the Sweet Sixteen in Atlanta to play either Xavier or Mississippi State.

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