Matt Coleman III brought the win to his Texas Longhorns over the North Carolina Tar Heels a title at Maui Invitational.
The No.17 Texas would edge out No.14 Tar Heels 69-67, with Coleman’s step-back two-pointer, after a robust battle that saw the Longhorns losing their pace in the second half, bat squeezing out a victory.
Coleman decided to take responsibility. He spent several seconds before dribbling to the foul line and sinking a step-back jumper over RJ Davis.
“Soft touch, baby,” Coleman said. “It was on line. I knew I didn’t leave it short. It just had to play with the rim a little bit, create some suspense for the fans — that’s all.”
It was his 22nd point of the game, with the senior guard ending the night as the contest’s best scorer.
Longhorns’ victory came after a very stressful battle that saw them coming back from a deficit, then having a double-digit lead before allowing NC to restore the advantage with under three minutes to go. With a little bit of luck and Coleman’s composure, Shaka Smart’s crew eventually reached a victory.
Tar Heels had a 15-10 lead midway through the first before Texas making a 26-5 run that saw them leaving rivals in the dirt. But as time went by in the second half, it was evident that the Longhorns can’t endure their own pace, with NC coming back.
Garrison Brook’s jumper at 2:44 to go saw the Tar Heel taking back the lead, 65-63, but Kai Jones played a vital role in pushing back North Carolina’s momentum, with four straight points.
This was the third win in three days for the Longhorns, who were exhausted following the match.
“We clearly were a little fatigued,” Smart added. “We weren’t necessarily clicking on all cylinders. … But if you want to be a good team, you got to find ways to win on days like that.”
Courtney Ramey added 13 points for Texas, Jones had 12 off the bench, with 8 boards, while Greg Brown scored 10 with 6 rebs.
Among the Tar Heels, Brooks had 18 points, with seven rebounds, RJ Davis added 11, Armando Bacot 10 with 12 boards, while Leaky Black scored 8 points but grabbing 12 rebounds. Even though North Carolina had an advantage on the glass, 50-32, they couldn’t exploit that.
“In the second half, coach just told us to go out there and fight and just be competitors, and we did it,” sophomore big man Armando Bacot said, “but unfortunately we just lost on a last-second shot,” Bacot stated.
This was the first Maui title for Texas in their fifth appearance. Though, instead of playing the tournament in Hawaii, this year’s participants clashed in North Carolina due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In the finals of the Jimmy V Classic, we’ll see the matchup between the Baylor Bears and the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
No.2 Baylor was excellent against No.6 Illinois Fighting Illini, winning 82-69. Adam Flagler had 18 points off the bench for the Bears, with three boards and assists. Davion Mitchell added 15 with seven assists, while Jared Butler scored 12. Macio Teague had a point fewer.
On the other side, the best player among the Fighting Illini was Ayo Dosunmu, with 18 buckets, six boards, and five dimes.
In the second semis, the No.1 Bulldogs routed West Virginia, 87-82, but they had to dig deep in order to win this one. Andrew Nembhard and Corey Kispert had 19 points each, while Joel Ayayi scored 21, shooting 10-for-15. Drew Timme had 17 points.
Derek Culver posted a strong double-double for Mountaineers with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.