Taking in Texas-UNC from the Dean Dome

Grant Halverson

I need to stop going to away games. Dedicated to my dear friend Kane Hollingsworth. Hook'em.

There are a lot of legitimate reasons to hate UNC when you are from North Carolina. Let me list some of them for you:

1. The student body looks like a Ralph Lauren experimentation lab where the inmates have taken over the asylum.

2. You didn't get in.

3. Fans say things like "Aces!" when they score a touchdown during football season.

4. They try really hard to heckle opposing fans. It's adorable. Here are some things that were shouted our way last night:

  • Colt McCoy couldn't even start for the Browns! (This came seconds after Jonathan Holmes dropped an NBA range three.)
  • Texas sucks! Who would want to live there?
  • Do y'all even CARE about basketball in Longhorn Land? (Ha. Got us there. We do not.)

5. UNC fans are contrarians by choice, philosophical at heart, and thin-skinned by nature. This, of course, does not apply universally, but fits the bill for about 75% of the student population. I was at a friend's house in Charlotte over Thanksgiving break talking about the Carolina Panthers success when a long-haired Tar Heel chimed in. "I don't get the NFL. It's lost its luster. Give me a NBA game over a NFL game any day of the week."

The thin-skin comes into play when they are losing a game. The chant "safety school" is hurled at any fan-base who walks in and punches UNC in the mouth in front of their fans. NC State? Safety school. Clemson? Safety school. Hell, some kid yelled "safety school" at the Longhorns last night. I don't even think they know what it means anymore. The phrase is just embedded in their minds.

Anyways, I've never really hated UNC or cheered against them. I was actually really excited to take in a game at the Dean Dome. I had been there numerous times before, but never for a basketball game. It is one of three arenas that I think are important for every college basketball fan to see (the other two being Cameron Indoor and Allen Fieldhouse.)

We went all in on $135 tickets. I think $135 gets you season tickets at Texas. It was a lower level section right at mid-court. The arena was awesome and I was excited to see the game. I didn't even expect the Horns to be that competitive, honestly. We just wanted to have a fun afternoon and night in Chapel Hill.

When the game started and Texas jumped on UNC early, my friend Ryan (a UGA student who I put in a Longhorn polo) started high-fiving and getting loud for the Longhorns. I can not understate how infuriating it was for UNC fans to have someone cheer against the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome. It'd be like cheering for the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis. They were not going to have it. A Raleigh reporter caught what happened next:

We were reprimanded because we were cheering during James Michael McAdoo's free throws. We weren't saying anything derogatory or laced with profanity. We were just making noise. That's what you do at a basketball game. You. Make. Noise.

It was enough to have a supervisor come down and sit on our row.

"Do you boys actually have tickets here?"

"Are you serious? Yes we do."

"Okay, I was just making sure."

"Neat. Hook'em."

She left. A minute later, a Chapel Hill police officer walked to our row and asked us to come with him. About 20 fans started to egg him on. They wanted us to get ejected for not wearing God's shade of light blue. It was working. We were screwed.

It was the nice fans in front of us, Liz Clark and her husband, who demanded that we keep our seats. They knew we were only trying to be good fans. They saved us. Otherwise, we were SOL on a game that we had driven 2 1/2 hours to see. We owe our great night in Chapel Hill to the Clarks and everybody on our row who followed us out with the Chapel Hill police officer.

We simmered down during Tar Heel free throws for the rest of the game, not that it mattered. UNC only capitalized on 24 of their 47 attempts from the line. It was UNC's rebounding skills (or lack thereof) and atrocious free throw shooting that cost them the game. In UNC's three losses, they've been outscored by a combined 10 points and missed 56 free throws. Texas had a better game at the charity stripe, but it was not pretty by any means. All in all, 26 free throws were missed at the Dean Dome. That's enough to get the losing team a 5 a.m. practice the next morning.

"I am not happy, guys," Williams said. "I am not in the daggum Christmas spirit. ... If you want to really know how ticked off I am, I told them we would practice at midnight tonight. And then I told them I better check the NCAA rules so we cannot practice at midnight tonight.

"We cannot practice until 5 a.m. And everybody's (butt) will be in here at 5 a.m. this morning."

The composure of the Longhorns down the stretch is what makes this team so special. When momentum shifted to Carolina after Paige knocked down a beautiful three pointer to bring the Tar Heels within inches, the Longhorns didn't blink. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Texas has put themselves in similar situations multiple times this season. Whether it's Mercer, South Alabama, Temple, or North Carolina, the Longhorns have kept their cool and hit shots when it mattered. A big congratulations to Javan Felix, who has stepped into that go-to role and has hit big shots when the Longhorns needed him to.

If you aren't on the bandwagon, I suggest you hop on board now. Texas basketball is 10-1 with a signature road victory and a home contest against a top-ten opponent on Saturday. As one of the fifteen students who attends every home game, I implore you to invest in tickets if you live near Austin. This team needs the support they deserve.

As for UNC, most of what I said is a joke. It's a great school and I have a lot of good friends who go there. I get why it's frustrating. We took them down in their favorite sport and most Texas fans don't even realize they have a basketball team. It would be like beating a top-ranked OU team in the Red River Rivalry and then following it up by missing fifteen field goals against an ACC team the next week.

I like UNC. It's pretty. It's not just a poor man's UVA. It's better than that. No hard feelings here. After all, how could I hate our triple-A affiliate?


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