Texas Longhorns: ACC

Altanta Elite 11 regional camp notebook 

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- Several talented quarterbacks took the field at the Atlanta Elite 11 regional camp on Friday. Though no official invites for the Elite 11 finals, held in Beaverton, Ore. in July, were extended, there were five finalists with potential to eventually earn an invite. The finalists included Anthony Ratliff, Austin King, Kendall Hinton, Ross Trail and Alex Malzone. Four of the five finalists were from out-of-state. King is from Alpharetta, Ga.

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Early Offer: 2015 begins now 

February, 7, 2014
Feb 7
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The ink was barely dry on the letters of intent for 2014 class when one of the best for the 2015 class came off the board; and what schools and recruiters have jumped out of the gate with success with players that won’t sign for another 360-plus days.

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The 10 most memorable BCS moments

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13

With the door closed on the 16-year reign of the BCS, we dove into the 72 BCS bowl games to find the 10 most memorable moments of the BCS era.

10. Utah’s hook-and-ladder: The first team ever dubbed a “BCS Buster” was the Urban Meyer-coached and Alex Smith-led Utah Utes in 2004. In the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, Utah led Pittsburgh 28-7 late in the third quarter and lined up at the Panthers’ 18-yard line. Smith swung it left to Steven Savoy, who lateraled to Paris Warren, who ran it in for the score as the Utes completed a 12-0 season.

9. Peerless Price down the sideline: Tennessee led Florida State 14-9 with 9:29 remaining in the fourth quarter in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl with the first BCS Championship on the line. UT quarterback Tee Martin found Price down the right sideline, and Price took it the distance for a 79-yard score. Price had 199 receiving yards for the winning Vols, the most ever in the BCS title game.

8. Ginn’s costly return: Ohio State received the opening kickoff from Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship game, and Ted Ginn Jr. wasted no time in getting the game’s first score on a 93-yard return. What will always be remembered, however, is that Ginn suffered a foot injury on the ensuing celebration and was out for the rest of the Buckeyes’ 41-14 loss.

7. Warrick's juggling score: Though the championship of the 1999 season was marked by Virginia Tech freshman QB Michael Vick, it was Florida State’s Peter Warrick who was named the most outstanding player. He had a punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and his juggling catch on a 43-yard score midway through the fourth served as the dagger.

6. Vince Young, Part I: Facing Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, Young was responsible for all five Texas touchdowns in a 38-37 win. Though he had runs of 60, 23 and 20 yards, the most impressive was a 10-yard run in which Young escaped the tackle of Michigan lineman Pat Massey before scampering to the right pylon.

5. Dyer isn’t down: Tied at 19 with Oregon with just more than two minutes remaining in the 2011 BCS Championship Game, Auburn running back Michael Dyer appeared to be tackled for a short gain at the Auburn 45-yard line. Having rolled over the defender, Dyer was never ruled down, and ended up gaining 37 yards on the play before he was taken down at the Oregon 23-yard line. Auburn would win on a field goal as time expired.

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Steve Grayson/WireImageIan Johnson's two-point conversion run in overtime propelled Boise State over heavily-favored Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
4. Winston to Benjamin: Trailing Auburn 31-27 in the final BCS Championship Game, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston drove the Noles 78 yards in less than a minute to the Auburn 2-yard line. Receiving the snap with 17 seconds left in a wild fourth quarter, Winston threw a perfect pass to Kelvin Benjamin, who brought it down for the game-winning score to complete an undefeated season.

3. Was it pass interference? Some will remember Maurice Clarett’s game-saving strip of Sean Taylor, but the lasting legacy of the game is the dubious pass interference call in overtime. Miami led 24-17 and Ohio State faced fourth-and-3 from the 5-yard line. Glenn Sharpe was called for pass interference, giving the Buckeyes new life in a game they would win 31-24.

2. Boise State’s trick plays: In the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State trailed heavily favored Oklahoma 35-28 with 18 seconds left and facing fourth-and-18 from the 50-yard line. Jared Zabransky completed a pass to Drisan James just short of the first down, but he lateraled it to Jerard Rabb, who took it the rest of the way for the tying touchdown. In overtime, down 42-35 on fourth down, wide receiver Vinny Perretta completed a 3-yard pass to Derek Schouman for a touchdown. Chris Petersen elected to go for two, and Zabransky faked a throw to his right before handing it behind his back to Ian Johnson on the Statue of Liberty play for the winning two-point conversion. Johnson would propose to his girlfriend, a Boise State cheerleader, on the sideline after the game.

1. Vince Young, Part II: After a Longhorns touchdown and key fourth-down stop, undefeated Texas trailed undefeated USC 38-33 with 26 seconds remaining and faced fourth-and-5 from the 9-yard line, with the 2005 BCS championship on the line. Vince Young dropped back to pass but saw nobody open, and immediately sprinted for the right pylon for the title-winning score in the marquee game of the BCS era.
Hours after top commit Poona Ford decommitted from Louisville, the Cardinals lost another 2014 pledge along the defensive line.

Three-star defensive tackle Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Victory Christian) is reopening his recruitment, he told ESPN.com in a text message Friday.

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Florida State announced Tuesday that Jimbo Fisher has signed a new contract that might keep him coaching the Seminoles through the 2018 season.

But until FSU releases details of the new contract, which is expected to raise Fisher’s salary from $2.75 million to about $4 million annually, we won’t know whether he’s officially off the market for other vacancies.

FSU officials aren’t expected to release details of Fisher’s contract until early next week, presumably after the No. 1 Seminoles play No. 2 Auburn in Monday night’s Vizio BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl.

[+] EnlargeJimbo Fisher
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsJimbo Fisher still could be in play for the job opening at Texas.
Then we’ll know the details of the fine print in Fisher’s new contract, most importantly what he would have to pay to leave Florida State for another school.

Fisher, who guided the Seminoles to a 13-0 record this season, is considered among the top targets at Texas, which is searching for Mack Brown’s replacement.

Fisher might not be ready to leave Florida State anytime soon. He and his coaching staff have stockpiled talent in Tallahassee, so much so that the Seminoles will be a popular choice as the No. 1 team in preseason polls heading into 2014.

The Seminoles will return a boatload of talent, including reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. But Winston figures to play only one more season in college before leaving for the NFL draft, so Fisher will have to consider his long-term future if the Longhorns indeed want him.

Fisher is smart enough to know that jobs like the one at Texas don’t come open very often. If the Longhorns really want him, they’ll be prepared to pay whatever it takes to buy him out of his contract with the Seminoles and make him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football. And Florida State probably isn’t in a financial position to get into a bidding war with Texas for Fisher, who has a 44-10 record in four seasons with the Seminoles. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the Longhorns’ bank account.

Fisher, 48, seems like the perfect fit for the Longhorns. Texas initially wanted Alabama coach Nick Saban, who wouldn’t leave the Crimson Tide, and Fisher has been the most successful Saban protégé. Just as importantly, Fisher has experience replacing a popular coach; he succeeded legendary Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden at a time when FSU’s fan base was divided. He didn’t need long to unite it.

When Fisher became FSU’s coach before the 2010 season, the Seminoles had fallen way behind rival Florida, which won two BCS national championships under former coach Urban Meyer. It didn’t take Fisher very long to catch the Gators and then surpass them.

Whoever replaces Brown at Texas will face a similar predicament. The Longhorns are the state’s flagship team, but they’ve limped through four straight mediocre seasons since losing to Alabama 37-21 in the 2010 BCS title game. UT has fallen behind not only longtime nemesis Texas A&M but even former cellar dweller Baylor in the Big 12.

UT athletic director Steve Patterson told reporters in San Antonio on Monday night that he hopes to have a new coach in place by Jan. 15. The UT search has been very quiet since Brown announced his retirement earlier this month, so we can assume the Longhorns have identified their candidates and are waiting for their current teams’ seasons to end.

Among the other coaches reportedly on Texas’ radar: Baylor’s Art Briles, Louisville’s Charlie Strong and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin. If Fisher isn’t interested, Briles would seem to make the most sense -- if he’s willing to leave the Bears.

Briles, who also recently agreed to a new contract with his current school, is a former Texas high school coach who knows the state well. His connections in the state might make it easier for the Longhorns to upgrade their talent quickly.

But, if UT officials decide Fisher is the coach who can get them back to the top, the Longhorns will make it very difficult for him to turn them down.

Flip Week: Texas

December, 24, 2013
Editor's note: During Week 12, 10 ESPN.com reporters changed conferences to experience college football in unfamiliar territory. Here is what they learned from the experience.

When we got our "Flip Week” assignments, I have to admit I thought I hit the college football jackpot. Maybe I'm biased, but I think I lucked out and got the best trip of them all. I had never been to Austin before, but plenty of close friends and family members had and I always felt I was missing out. Each one raved about the city, but for different reasons. A small part of me was slightly worried that Austin would be unable to live up to its advance billing, like an overhyped movie that turns out to be so-so.

Well, those concerns faded away about an hour into my visit. All the rave reviews you hear about Austin? They are all true. All the rave reviews you hear about Texas football game-day traditions? They are all true. All the rave reviews you hear about the food? They are all true. Austin was everything I wanted it to be, and that is what makes the city so irresistible to folks who visit. The experiences are so varied, no two are ever the same.

Now, here is a quick overview of the trip. Beginning with my favorite pic.
Best meal: la Barbecue. This was not an easy choice, because every meal I had was pretty terrific. But the "El Sancho" sandwich stands out. Filled with brisket, sausage and pickled red onion on a soft bun, the meat was tender, juicy and flavorful and the barbecue sauce I chose had the right amount of sweetness. This ended up being a fork-and-knife sandwich: the meat was packed in so tight, it spilled out from all sides. My favorite part, truthfully, was the sausage. It blended the right amount of sweet and spice, with a crunchy skin that popped when chomped on a bite. I admit I could not finish the whole sandwich. But I did eat every bite of sausage.

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Courtesy Andrea AdelsonBevo has the best seat in the house for a Texas home football game, as ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson learned on her trip.
Must-see sight in Austin: College football aficionados must take in the whole game-day experience. That means having a beverage at the Scholz Garten, mooching off some delicious tailgate grub on en route to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, attempting to get close enough to get a glimpse of at least one player walking into the stadium during the march in, enjoying the band pregame featuring Big Bertha, hearing Smokey the Cannon go off and, of course, observing the always fascinating Bevo XIV. What does he do all game, you may ask. He just stands there. That is all.

Biggest surprise: Upbeat Texas fans. I wondered what the mood would be in Austin given all the speculation and tension surrounding the program throughout the course of the season. I was there for the Oklahoma State game, with Big 12 implications on the line. Texas fans had hope headed into the game, but they all seemed to believe it was time for Mack Brown to go. Just about everybody I talked to had no hard feelings for him. They just felt he was ruining his legacy by hanging too long. Despite the tension, though, Texas fans remained resolute the program would be back on top one way or another.

Biggest difference from ACC: In the ACC, you either have programs in major cities (Boston, Miami, Pittsburgh, Atlanta) or in college towns (Clemson, Blacksburg, Charlottesville). Austin is both big city and college town rolled into one. Three ACC programs are in state capitals, like Texas is in Austin. But Tallahassee, Raleigh and Atlanta would never be described as equal parts big city and equal parts college town.

They said it: "Texas is an icon program. In football, our brand is so recognizable, we are almost like the Yankees. The fact that people hate UT solidifies how good we are. The more they hate us, the better we are." Texas fan Todd Summy, explaining why he loves the Longhorns.

If I could go back: I missed the live music. How did I go to Austin and not see any? I am kicking myself for that. But because there was also an auto race the same weekend, my hotel was 30 minutes away from the heart of town. And our schedules were so packed with work and interviews, I simply did not have the time. That is No. 1 on my list next time I go. And yes, there absolutely will be a next time.
Time to get my Texas two-step down pat in the next two days as I leave the comforts of home for a bit of the unknown.

This weekend, bloggers across ESPN.com are trading places with their counterparts, allowing us each a look at what makes college football special in different parts of the country.

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John Albright/Icon SMIIf Andrea Adelson is lucky, her first trip to Austin, Texas, will include a meeting with Bevo.
Now normally I, Andrea Adelson, write about the ACC. But this weekend I get to experience Big 12 country at Texas. I am thrilled about the trip for a variety of reasons. First, I have covered the SEC, ACC and Big East during my career. I have never been to a Big 12 game, nor have I ever been to Austin, nor have I been to the Texas campus. Quite a trifecta!

Second, "Friday Night Lights" happens to be one of my favorite shows of all time, so I might just be a fan girl and find some of the famous sites where Coach Taylor stared down his players. "Clear eyes, full hearts ..."

Third, I want to eat. A lot. While listening to good music and watching Georgia Tech-Clemson on Thursday night.

I have heard so many great things about Austin itself, from the music to the food (wait, I already mentioned that), but I am most eager to get a first-hand look at the Texas football experience itself. I have been to some of the best college atmospheres in the country at Florida, LSU, Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson, so I am excited to see how Texas compares. But I also want to know -- what makes being a fan at Texas different from all the rest? And am I allowed to pet Bevo?

So where should I go? Whom should I meet? What should I see? Help this Florida gal, Jake!

Jake Trotter: Andrea, you’re going to love Austin. That’s assuming you love great food, great music, great weather and a great college football atmosphere.

Before moving to Oklahoma, I actually lived and worked in Austin for a year. And picking a great place to eat in Austin is like picking Jameis Winston’s best pass this season. There are many. I could recommend a hundred different places and guarantee you a phenomenal meal. I’ll let the readers send you their suggestions. Just make sure you grab a taco for breakfast and a barbecue plate for lunch before leaving town. Austin also has the greatest collection of coffee shops of any place I’ve ever been to. If you like coffee the way I do, you’ll be in heaven.

Nightlife in Austin is also second to none.

Texas country (far superior to Nashville country) will be strumming everywhere, from the Continental Club on South Congress to Stubb’s BBQ on Red River Street. You should also check out Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets, which comprise the entertainment mecca of the Southwest (enter Sixth at your own risk).

The daylife in Austin is pretty spectacular, too.

If you get the chance, take a drive through the Hill Country, or take a walk along Austin’s downtown running trails.

I checked the weather forecast for you, too. It might rain a little. But otherwise, it should be gorgeous as usual, with a high of 77 and low of 59 over the weekend. So bring your jacket, but leave your coat.

There’s also a pretty big game in Austin this weekend. A game with major Big 12 title implications on the line.

Before the game, make sure to check out Bevo’s pen -- just don’t get too close.

Other than that, there’s not much you can’t do in Austin. But there’s a whole heck of a lot you can. Have a blast.

To send Andrea other suggestions about what to do at Texas, send them to her mailbag or tweet her @aadelsonESPN.

#CampusConnection: Primetime Live

September, 21, 2013
Can Texas right the ship against K-State? Will Michigan avoid another upset scare? Can Auburn-LSU produce another close one? And what about that Arizona State-Stanford showdown in the Pac-12?

We’ll be watching these games and many more on Saturday night and we’d like you to join in on the conversation. Head on over to Campus Connection at 8 ET and follow the action along with our eight reporters. Post your comments and questions and we’ll include as many of them as possible.

Week 2: Did ACC tilt balance of power?

September, 10, 2013
Miami Hurricanes Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesThe Miami Hurricanes celebrated an upset win over the Florida Gators on Sept. 7.
For four months, ESPN The Magazine will follow the march to the Vizio BCS National Championship, moment by moment, culminating in our Story of the Season double-issue on Dec. 27. Every Tuesday, Mag senior writer Ryan McGee will pick the previous week's biggest moments and tell you why they'll have the most impact on potential BCS title matchups. If you disagree, send a tweet to @ESPNMag and tell us why your moment matters more, using the hashtag #StoryoftheSeason. Who knows? Your moment (and tweet) might just end up in our issue.

ON PAPER, Week 2 didn't exactly appear overrun with BCS-altering showdowns. But by the time the final whistle had blown in the Pacific time zone, there were indeed dashed postseason hopes scattered among the wreckage.

If Week 1 was the Saturday that the FCS-FBS line officially blurred, then Week 2 was the Saturday that the BCS storylines officially started to take shape. Let’s just call it Power Shift Saturday. And let’s start in South Florida.

The previous five times the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes played, the winner finished the season ranked in the top 5 in the AP poll. The programs have been on-again, off-again rivals, part of a longstanding, round-robin tourney (along with Florida State) to be the kings of the Sunshine State.

Sensing that this will be the final regular-season matchup between the two teams for the foreseeable future, the oft-maligned Sun Life Stadium crowd actually showed up. Officials even uncovered extra seats, a practice normally reserved for the Orange Bowl, not Hurricanes fans who don’t typically bother with the drive from Coral Gables.

With the heightened stakes, the blood was up early on both sidelines -- early as in before the game started. During warm-ups, the two teams started edging closer and the jawing became so intense that game officials had to give a polite warning. “There was so much smack talk, I can’t even describe it,” Miami quarterback Stephen Morris said after the game.

To open the game, the Gators' offense, led by Jeff Driskel, marched down the field on an eight-play drive, only to fumble in Miami territory. They marched again on a seven-play drive that bled into the second quarter, only to have Driskel throw a pick inside the Miami 5. And again they marched, only to have an 11-play drive stall after a failed fourth-and-1 at the Miami 16. Finally, a 12-play drive ended on a Trey Burton fumble in the red zone, with less than a minute to play in the half.

Still, the Gators' defense gave the offense a chance to win, eventually locking down what started as a runaway Hurricanes offense and limiting them to less than 2 yards per rush.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, Miami led 14-9, but Florida was driving (again), with a third-and-3 at the Canes’ 16-yard line. Driskel took the snap from the shotgun and immediately fell into the habit that plagued him all day: His eyes betrayed him.

As soon as he had the ball, he was looking right, where two wide receivers were running quick outs. With an onrushing Miami defender in his face, Driskel rocketed a pass toward the sideline and wideout Quinton Dunbar, who was at the Miami 7, just beginning his turn to the quarterback.

“This is where you see Driskel get himself into trouble as a one-level thinker,” an NFL scout told me on Sunday, watching film of the play on my laptop. “It’s a boom-boom play; he’s not supposed to take a lot of time, but damn, he never even considered another option. He already had his mind made up who the ball was going to, come hell or high water.”

The play had a designed safety valve, which was Burton, running toward the sideline at the 12. Instead, Driskel fired it past Burton to Dunbar, who was cut inside by cornerback Tracy Howard, who essentially iced the game with an interception. The Gators did get the ball back, but turned it over (again), this time on a Driskel fumble deep in their own territory. Florida’s final TD made the 21-16 result look closer than the game was.

“[Driskel] does this the whole game,” the scout said, taking my laptop and scrolling back to the second quarter, when Driskel appeared to be first-option only, gunning blindly into nearly quadruple-coverage for an INT. “That play was designed to the running back on the left. If he’s not there, then he’s got a clear out to run. But again, he’d decided where he was going with it before the play even started. You can’t be a real title contender like that. Did you see Tennessee against Western Kentucky? Ball hawks. That team might intercept this kid five times.”

If the Vols do so on Sept. 21 in Gainesville, Florida -- which dropped from No. 12 to No. 18 in the AP poll -- is nearly guaranteed an opening SEC loss. During the Will Muschamp era, the Gators are 19-9. In those 19 wins, they’ve committed 18 turnovers, good for a plus-20 turnover margin. In the nine loses, that margin falls to minus-21.

As for the power shift, The U scored its first win against a top-15 opponent since 2009 and easily its biggest since knocking off No. 3 Virginia Tech in 2005. The Canes, which went from unranked to No. 15 in the poll after the win, reinforced the ACC media’s preseason decision to vote them as the Coastal Division favorites. But more importantly, they reinforced the ACC itself. For the second straight week, the conference knocked off a highly ranked SEC foe. The coach who earned that first power-shifting win was quick to acknowledge the trend.

“How about that ACC?” Clemson’s Dabo Swinney said as he wrapped up his postgame news conference Saturday after trouncing South Carolina State. “Spunky little league.”

Then he threw up Miami’s trademark "U" hand gesture and walked off the stage.

Of course, he doesn’t have to face the Canes during the regular season, unlike Jimbo Fisher and Florida State, who do on Nov. 2.

  • Georgia, the team that Swinney and Clemson beat Aug. 31, last week knocked off the team that the Tigers hope to beat on Nov. 30: Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina. The Dawgs’ 41-30 win over the then-No. 6 Gamecocks also indicated a significant power shift. UGA snapped a maddening three-game losing streak to its SEC East rival. Yes, Georgia still managed to make the SEC title game the past two years, but the South Carolina losses always dogged its potential BCS title game status. Should Aaron Murray and company return to Atlanta this season, they still will have the Clemson loss hanging over them. But if the Tigers win out (they will certainly be favored in all of their remaining games), then they could potentially meet the Dawgs again in Pasadena. Then again, South Carolina could ruin the party for both if it beats Clemson in Columbia, something it has done in four straight seasons.
  • Michigan’s 41-30 victory over Notre Dame signified a bit of a power shift: The Wolverines managed to beat a ranked opponent, something they did only once in five tries last season. Meanwhile, the Irish, who were ranked No. 14 last week, failed their first test of 2013 after beating an all-star list of schools during their improbable unranked-to-BCS title game run of 2012. Last season, Michigan lost to South Carolina (No. 11), Ohio State (No. 4), Alabama (No. 2) and yes, Notre Dame (No. 11). Now both teams have done something they couldn’t a year ago -- one beat a ranked team, and the other lost a regular-season game.
  • Speaking of power shifts ... was it really just eight years ago that Texas and USC played for the national title at the Rose Bowl? In case you need to be reminded, both suffered surprising upsets Saturday. And if you’re a member of either of those fan bases, safe to say you’re also upset. The Longhorns fired one-time wunderkind defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after just two games, a decision accelerated by BYU’s unthinkable 550-yard rushing performance. As for the Trojans’ fall (at the Coliseum, no less), the closing minutes of the loss to Mike Leach’s Washington State squad were played among "Fire Kiffin!" chants. USC has lost seven of its past nine games; Texas has dropped three of its past five.
Miami Hurricanes, Florida GatorsESPN The Magazine

Links: Farewell to the BCS

August, 14, 2013

This is the last year of the BCS, and our writers look at its impact on college football:

From Ivan Maisel: The BCS has moved NCAA football forward in a way no system before it could and given it a national stage, but along with exposure comes greater pressure and expectations, which in the end the series couldn't overcome.

From Mark Schlabach: As we prepare for the final season of the BCS, let's take a look back at its highs and lows.

From Brian Bennett: Five of the last seven national champions have had at least one loss, and with a playoff looming, going undefeated will be harder than ever.

Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, ACC, NCF

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas suffered its biggest loss of the season on the night it pulled off its biggest win.

Prior to the Longhorns' 85-67 victory over No. 23 North Carolina at the Frank Erwin Center, point guard Myck Kabongo was ruled ineligible for the season by the NCAA, barring an appeal, according to sources from within the Texas athletics department. The story was first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night.

The loss of Kabongo put a serious dent in this young Texas team's chances of making a 16th consecutive NCAA tournament. But the win against the Tar Heels at least gives the 7-4 Longhorns some hope.

Playing with a true freshman point guard in Javan Felix and only freshmen and sophomores on the court, UT played the role of the aggressor, pushed the more talented and savvy Heels around, built a big lead and -- for the first time this season -- didn't crumble.

"There is process that every student-athlete goes through, and I can only tell you that process is not done. We are in the middle of that process," said Texas coach Rick Barnes of the Kabongo situation. "Every student-athlete is entitled to a process if something comes up, and that process is ongoing."

Kabongo has been under investigation for impermissible benefits concerning a workout that involved agent Rich Paul. According to sources, the penalty was so severe because Kabongo had been less than straightforward when the NCAA initially questioned him.

While Barnes refused to take further questions on Kabongo, North Carolina coach Roy Williams now has plenty of them about his team.

"It was like comedy of errors, except it wasn't very blankety-blank funny," Williams said.

The Tar Heels' defense refused to extend in the first half and allowed Texas to build a 19-point lead. That lead was aided by two straight surprising 3-pointers from Texas forward Jonathan Holmes. The sophomore had made only three shots from beyond the arc in his 10 previous games.

[+] EnlargeJavan Felix
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsFreshman point guard Javan Felix effectively piloted Texas, scoring 8 points with 8 assists.
"We backed off him," Williams said.

And North Carolina continued to back down for most of the night.

"They did a better job of pushing the pace and getting us back on our heels," Williams said. "It seems like they got every loose ball."

There were plenty of those to go around, as Carolina turned it over 18 times. Texas, typically not a solid transition team, scored 14 points off those turnovers.

"Coming into the game, coach Barnes preached to us to getting the ball out and getting back in transition, and that was our game plan along with rebounding -- and that was what we tried to do," Felix said.

"They outran a running team," is how Williams put it.

In fact, Texas struggled only when it went into half-court sets. Starting the second half, North Carolina started to value the basketball more and made more of an effort to keep the Texas offense in front of it. That, coupled with the aggressiveness of James Michael McAdoo (14 points, 9 rebounds) and Reggie Bullock (a career-high 13 rebounds), allowed UNC to cut the lead to four.

Given that Texas has been a team that has struggled down the stretch -- the Longhorns were outscored 13-2 down the stretch in a 65-63 loss to UCLA -- it appeared as if the tide had started to turn.

Until, that is, North Carolina neglected to communicate on defense and allowed Cameron Ridley to throw down an uncontested dunk to push the lead back to seven with 6 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.

"We were aggressive and moved the ball pretty well, and some guys knocked some shots down," Barnes said. "But this was a game we thought would be won in transition and on the boards."

Texas didn't win on the boards in the box score (North Carolina had 43 to the Horns' 40). But UT did win in second-chance points with 18, and in fast-break points with 14.

"We have had a couple of tough losses because we had not played as hard as we should," said Holmes, who finished with 15 points and 8 boards. "[Wednesday night], we came out and did what we had to do. We definitely set the bar high for the rest of the season."

Regardless of who might be with Texas for the rest of the season.

--HornsNation writer Max Olson contributed to this report

Live chat: GameDay Thursday

August, 30, 2012
Take a look back at what our ESPN.com college football experts had to say as they examined the top 25, the Heisman darkhorses, conference power rankings and what to watch this opening weekend of college football.

College Football 411: Spring's best

May, 18, 2012

Cassidy Hubbarth and the college football bloggers bring you the best from the spring and what that means for the games in the fall.

Video: College football bowls vs. playoffs

April, 27, 2012

Ivan Maisel and Gene Wojciechowski debate whether the bowls or a playoff system is the way to go.

College Football 411: Playoff dreaming

April, 26, 2012

Cassidy Hubbarth and the college football bloggers go around the country to explain how a playoff system would help everyone.


Texas' Strong Discusses Aggressive Offense, Defense
Longhorn Network analyst and Texas alum Ricky Williams sits down with Texas head coach Charlie Strong, who was hired to replace Mack Brown this off-season.Tags: Charlie Strong, Ricky Williams, Texas Longhorns, Longhorn Network