The No. 14 North Carolina basketball team fell to No. 17 Texas on Wednesday, 69-67, clawing back from a 12-point first-half deficit only to see Longhorn guard Matt Coleman III nail a game-winning jumper with 0.1 seconds left.
The loss moves UNC to 3-1, denying them a Maui Invitational championship and exposing some early-season flaws that head coach Roy Williams and company will look to patch up. Here are three takeaways from the game — and the Maui tournament as a whole.
Free throws, free throws, free throws
“There were a lot of things we could’ve done better,” center Armando Bacot said plainly after the game.
Yup. The Tar Heels shot just 1-9 from 3-point range against the Longhorns, committed 14 turnovers — eight of which were in the first 11 minutes of play — and did little to stymie the opposition from deep, allowing Texas to sink nine of 22 3-point attempts themselves.
Despite all that, though, Bacot could’ve been striking a much different tone postgame if the Tar Heels weren’t a dreadful 18 of 32 from the free throw line. In a game decided by a single possession, that can’t happen.
“We missed three free throws in the last two minutes,” Williams said. “At the end of the game, you’ve got to make three throws.”
This season, UNC is shooting 61.9 percent from the line through four games — not good, but especially worrying for a team so reliant on paint points and offensive production in the front court. The combination of Bacot, Garrison Brooks, Day’Ron Sharpe and Walker Kessler was 10 for 20 from the stripe on Wednesday; combine that with any other poor offensive metric — shoddy outside shooting, a bad case of the turnover bug — and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, one North Carolina is all too familiar with after last season.