Texas just earned the biggest win of Shaka Smart’s young tenure as Longhorns coach. And it came in dramatic, controversial fashion as the Longhorns knocked off No.3 North Carolina 84-82.
UT senior Javan Felix picked up the rebound after Isaiah Taylor’s shot missed right. Felix, who was wide open, drained the winning shot and beat the buzzer by literally milliseconds. It was the closest of calls, but after the officials deemed the basket good in real time, they didn’t see enough video evidence to overturn the bucket.
“I’m glad I didn’t call timeout,” Smart said on ESPN afterward.
The controversy comes with the foul that was not called on Texas forward Connor Lammert, who barreled into UNC senior star point guard Marcus Paige. Watch the video again and you’ll see Paige get pushed to the floor, but no whistle is called.
If you wanna know why Javan Felix was so wide open, watch what happens to Marcus Paige lol https://t.co/IRDPlAxQgu
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) December 13, 2015
With the win, Texas improves to 11-13 all time against teams ranked in the top five of the AP poll. The team’s last win against a top-five squad came in 2009, against then-No. 2 Oklahoma. The last time Texas won at home against a non-conference opponent? It was 2013. It was over North Carolina.
Felix had a game-high 25 points and was 5-for-7 from 3-point range. He and Isaiah Taylor, who had 18 points and five assists, made for a terrific combo in keeping Texas moving, in keeping Texas throwing counter punches against a UNC squad that should threaten for a Final Four later this season.
In fact, UNC-Texas already feels like one of the three or four best games in the sport so far this season. Paige had 20 points and four rebounds. UNC sophomore Justin Jackson had 15 points. This game also marked 234 career 3-pointers for Page, which moved him to the top of the all-time list in UNC history.
Texas, which might no longer be unranked come Monday, has won four straight.
“I knew our guys were going to come with a lot of effort, a lot of energy,” Smart said. “I thought our guys did about as good a job as we can today in that.”
A great game, thrilling ending, but one not lacking some dispute. Even in a loss, UNC came away looking good, and it has a good case why it shouldn’t have taken the loss anyway. Did the shot truly leave Felix’s hand in time, and if even if so, why was the contact against Paige not called a foul?