Dec, 21, 2011; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; Texas Longhorns guard Sheldon McClellan (1) shoots as North Carolina Tar Heels forward Jackson Simmons (21) defends in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Longhorns 82-63 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: North Carolina vs. Texas

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The Texas Longhorns head into the final stretch of non-conference play, as North Carolina comes calling tonight in Austin. Boasting an 8-2 mark and ranked 23rd in the Associated Press poll, the Tar Heels are led by sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo (15.4 PPG), junior deep threat Reggie Bullock (46% 3PT), and senior point guard Dexter Strickland (5.0 APG). UNC dismantled the Horns 82-63 last year in Chapel Hill.

For a freshman and sophomore-littered Texas squad, it’s another chance to learn and grow on a national stage. And while you’re always building your resume for March, at this point, victories for this team can’t simply be determined by what the scoreboard reads. They must also be measured by the little steps that can be taken, by guys finding and settling into their roles, by the opportunities to live college basketball at its highest level in order to comprehend what it takes to compete. Can Javan Felix rid the senseless turnovers from his blossoming offensive game? Can Sheldon McClellan accelerate his maturation into a go-to scorer? Can Cameron Ridley put forth enough effort on both ends to stay on the floor and out of Rick Barnes’ doghouse?

Winning breeds confidence, for sure, and the confidence that’s been gained against the likes of UT Arlington and Texas State cannot be understated. But there’s just as much to gain by going against superior competition, playing hard for 40 minutes, and seeing how you ultimately match up. Tonight, the Horns get that chance.

The game tips at 8pm CST and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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You can contact Brent Stoller at [email protected]

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