ASHEVILLE, North Carolina — Senior guard Matt Coleman drained a jumper from the foul line with 0.1 second left to lead the No. 17/22 Texas men’s basketball team to a 69-67 win over No. 14/16 North Carolina in the championship game of the Camping World Maui Invitational at Harrah’s Cherokee Center-Asheville.
The victory gave UT (4-0) its first title in five appearances in the tournament. UNC dropped to 3-1. Texas now has won five straight and nine of its last 10 games against North Carolina.
Coleman scored a game-high 22 points to lead four Longhorns who scored in double figures. Guard Courtney Ramey had 13 points, forward Kai Jones added 12 and forward Greg Brown chipped in with 10.
“First I want to congratulate North Carolina on how well they played in the second half — they really took it to us and had us on our heels (for) the majority of the second half,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said. “Matt Coleman made a huge shot at the end of the game, which was the difference, but give our guys credit for just hanging in there. We clearly were a little fatigued — we weren’t clicking on all cylinders, we had some guys that didn’t have their best day, but if you want to be a good team you have to find a way to win on days like that, and our guys hung in there and did that.”
Smart said that in a tie game against a nationally ranked opponent, he wanted to put the ball — and, essentially, the game — in Coleman’s hands.
“We wanted to make sure we got the last shot, and we wanted to at least have the ball in Matt’s hands to make the decision, if not the shot,” Smart said. “So we ran a flat pick-and-roll action. They did a nice job defending it … Matt made a great play. My reaction was trying to figure out how much time was left, and obviously what was next, because our guys were out there … all over the floor, but it wasn’t all the way done, so … just happy for our guys.”
Coleman also wanted to take the final shot, but he also said it was vital that he wait until the clock wound almost all the way down before taking what proved to be the game-winning shot.
“Before, I went to the timeout with a little smirk on my face, because I was thinking in my head, ‘I was made for times like this,’” Coleman said. “I wanted to win, and (on) the last play, we drew up a spread pick-and-roll — I mean a middle tunnel pick-and-roll. We go at eight seconds, and when I came off the screen, I noticed there was, like, six seconds left, and I just wanted to take the last shot, so I didn’t give them a chance to get a rebound and an opportunity to score, and the rest fell in my favor.
The Longhorns’ senior leader shot 9-of-16 from the floor, and hit half of his shots from behind the three-point line. In UT’s three victories in the tournament, he averaged a team-high 16.0 points and 5.0 assists in 37 minutes per game, converting 50 percent (18 of 36) of his shots from the field, including 7 of 17 (.412) from three-point range and 5-of-6 free throws. For his efforts, he was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
For Coleman, the game was his second in the Longhorns’ last six games, dating back to last season. He banked in a running three-pointer in the final seconds March 3 at Oklahoma last season to help UT claim a 52-51 victory.