DENVER (Ticker) -- Times have changed when North Carolina's basketball program is trying to reach a par with Texas.
Royal Ivey scored 17 points and Brandon Mouton added 12 as the third-seeded Longhorns moved into the "Sweet 16" for the third straight year with a 78-75 victory over No. 6 North Carolina in the second round of the Atlanta Region.
While Texas (25-7) is trying to reach the Final Four for the second season in a row, the Tar Heels were back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001 under first-year coach Roy Williams. The Longhorns were the more experienced team in this matchup, using physical play and Ivey's senior leadership to wrest control late in the first half.
"It's special," Mouton said. "One of our goals was to get in the tournament and win games. Right now, we've put ourselves in a great position."
North Carolina (19-11) charged back after trailing by as many as 13 points, cutting the deficit to 77-75 on a 3-pointer by Raymond Felton with 11 seconds to go.
Longhorns freshman P.J. Tucker, a North Carolina native who grew up dreaming of playing for the Tar Heels, made 1-of-2 from the line. North Carolina rushed the ball upcourt, but Rashad McCants stepped inside the arc and missed a jumper as time expired.
"I never expected it to end like this," McCants said. "The games were so close and we won or lost because of one possession, whether a box-out, a turnover or foul."
McCants led all scorers with 27 points for the Tar Heels. The storied program has not gotten past the second round since reaching the Final Four in 2000, something Williams was brought in to change.
"I am proud to be North Carolina coach," said Williams, who lost the national title game with Kansas against Syracuse last season. "I couldn't be any more proud. I could be happier, but I could not be more proud."
Texas entered with the stronger frontcourt, and it was a major factor in the win. James Thomas and Jason Klotz helped hound Tar Heels center Sean May into 2-of-10 shooting for 11 points.
The win was especially sweet since the Longhorns lost point guard T.J. Ford to the NBA yet still managed to reach a third straight "Sweet 16" for the first time in school history. Seniors Mouton, Ivey and Brian Boddicker were major reasons why Texas survived without Ford.
"They are a confident group of guys, they don't get too excited," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "They go in there and get the job done."
Texas will face Mississippi State or Xavier on Friday in Atlanta.