Game Preview: Texas

So here the Heels go on a quest to find its first road win against a Big Six conference opponent deep in the heart of Texas. As Barking Carnival puts it, this is a marquee matchup without marquee teams.

Similar to the UNC basketball team of last year, the 2011-2012 Texas team had a solid core and run in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately Texas’ floor general Myck Kabongo is currently having his eligibility reviewed by the NCAA in an ongoing and frustrating saga. As a Heels fan, I’m ok with Kabongo not being available tonight, seeing as how Texas is 6-4 without him this year including loses to Chaminade and USC. As a college basketball fan, I’d really like the NCAA to stop dragging its feet on the issue and make a decision.

Andre Armstrong, Brandon St. Louis,, Sheldon McClellan

  • In Kabongo’s absence, sophomore guard Sheldon McClellan has stepped up. The 6’4″ Texas native leads the team in scoring with over 15 a game. And he’s not even posting up outside looking for his jumper. McClellan takes it to the basket having gotten to the free throw line 60 times this season. He has shot 45 threes, but still. Sixty FT attempts is impressive, as well as 20 more than the closest Tar Heel (James Michael McAdoo).
  • Texas’ two next leading scorers are also guards. Sophomore Julien Lewis is the only other double digit scorer (11.2) and freshman point Javan Felix has filled in admirably for Kabongo averaging 9 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds in 35 minutes per contest.
  • Rick Barnes has a lot of youth this year. Twelve of 14 players are either freshman or sophomores which may explain why the team has trouble scoring. Texas averages 63 points a game, including only 41 scored in a loss to Georgetown.
  • Speaking of those loses, you can’t really blame them for the Georgetown game and we’ll even forgive them for an OT loss to USC on a neutral. Chaminade though? Nah. And a struggling UCLA team on a “neutral” court in Houston is questionable. Of course that was the game in Reliant Stadium that didn’t even draw 3,000 fans. I think everyone wants to forget that game.
  • UNC has a major size advantage. Texas relies on a 6’8″ freshman for post presence and that’s obviously not working out for them. Maybe this is the game UNC’s bigs step up, or maybe it’s time we just give up this charade. And who starts at the 5 spot? Seriously though, who is starting next to JMM?

Other more knowledgable predictions have this game between 5 points and 1, leaning in either direction. We’re going bold, mostly because we learned that Texas can’t even sell this game out.

Prediction: UNC 78, Texas 66