The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 28th

UNC's brutal non-conference slate concludes against Texas

Contrary to the saying, not everything in Texas is big.

But everything about No. 10 North Carolina’s next game against No. 2 Texas certainly is.

The matchup with the Longhorns (9-0) caps off a season-opening flourish of games against top-25 competition for the Tar Heels (8-2).  Texas is the last of five ranked non-conference opponents on UNC's schedule, three of which currently sit in the top-5 of the AP Poll.

The game will be played in the newly-built Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, fitting for the Texas-sized anticipation for this clash between two of the top programs in the country.

It’s the first basketball game to take place in the venue, and coincidentally the first game to be played where the court (94 feet) will be smaller than the length of the video board hanging above it (160 ft). Promoters originally had aspirations of having the largest crowd to watch a NCAA regular-season game, but that’s unlikely to be the case.

Still, the hype about the matchup against undefeated Texas has given coach Roy Williams second thoughts about the relatively late decision to add this game to the schedule.

“This game is the one that I had the choice of,” Williams said. “And I think it’s wonderful. I think the kids will be excited about playing in there, but I think it probably wasn’t the best thing for this team.”

Led by three senior starters, the Longhorns have churned through their 2009-10 campaign so far with ease.  Their closest game was a 16-point win on the road against Pittsburgh, and they’re holding opponents to a meager 53.8 points per game.

Six-foot-seven swingman Damion James leads the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game, and he possesses the rare combination of superior rebounding ability (10.1 per game) and a good 3-point stroke (46 percent from behind the arc).

Marcus Ginyard is expected to play for the Tar Heels after sitting out last week against Presbyterian with pain in his foot. He’ll likely draw James on defense if he plays.

“Marcus, well I did expect him to play and I sort of still do,” Williams said. “But his foot is a lot better. He went about 40 to 50 percent at practice yesterday.”

Williams said reserve point guard Dexter Strickland is “questionable” after also sitting out last game with a bad hamstring.

Despite the mixed thoughts about scheduling the game, Williams was optimistic that it’ll help this year’s young team mature.

“I said our team is probably not ready for that, knowing that we already had those other games scheduled,” Williams said.  “But I said, ‘What the heck.’”

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