No. 4 Spartans thump Tar Heels
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Tom Izzo finally got the better of Roy Williams with a record performance Michigan State would like to replicate — and North Carolina would rather soon forget.
Sometimes playing ugly still matters.
“What I think this does is reassure our guys,” Izzo said. “The way basketball is right now, it’s all the pretty boys stuff but at the end of the day most of the good teams are still winning by doing the dirty work.”
Joshua Langford made five 3-pointers and scored 23 points and No. 4 Michigan State used a record-setting defensive performance to topple No. 9 North Carolina 63-45 on Sunday night to win the “Victory Bracket” of the PK80 Invitational.
Izzo bested North Carolina for the first time with Williams in charge in Chapel Hill by holding the Tar Heels to the worst shooting performance in school history. The Tar Heels shot 24.6 percent. They were 1 of 18 on 3s, also the worst effort in the school’s history. The 45 points tied for the second-fewest scored by the Tar Heels with Williams as head coach.
In the three games in Portland, the Spartans allowed 57, 51 and 45 points. They imposed themselves on the defensive end, bullying the opposition. Shots were contested. Lanes were clogged. The Spartans made nothing easy and it was capped by a record performance against the Tar Heels that left Williams apologetic.
“So far this year the freshmen haven’t necessarily played like freshmen. Today the freshmen played lime freshmen, and the sophomores, juniors and seniors played like freshmen. And the coach coached like he’d never seen a game of basketball in his life,” Williams said. “Other than that, it’s not a bad night.”
Langford was key in the first half as the Spartans (5-1) built a 13-point halftime lead despite Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. being limited with foul trouble. Langford had 14 points in the first half as Michigan State used an 11-4 run to take control and were never threatened by the Tar Heels.
Bridges finished with 11 points and the Spartans felt they got a bit of redemption after stumbling in their first matchup with a top 10 team losing 88-81 to Duke on Nov. 14.
“This is a great team win because we won the game on the defensive end,” Langford said.
Theo Pinson led North Carolina (5-1) with 16 points, but Joel Berry II and Luke Maye both had awful nights. The Tar Heels trimmed the 21-point deficit to 12 with 4:30 left, but Bridges stemmed the run with a driving layup.
Maye had been brilliant to start the season for North Carolina but was 3 of 13 shooting, missed five free throws and finished with just eight points. Michigan State challenged seemingly every shot in the paint and the Tar Heels had no outside shooting.
Berry was 2 of 11 overall. The Tar Heels had more turnovers (16) than field goals (15).
“They punched us right in the mouth and we just let them punch us and didn’t fight back at all,” Berry said. “They just took us out of what we wanted to do.”
North Carolina’s night was so awful even the easiest plays became difficult. Kenny Williams made a fine interception of a pass in the first half but his breakaway layup caromed off the front rim and Winston drilled a 3-pointer at the other end to push Michigan State’s lead to 33-17. Late in the second half, Maye was wide open on a drive down the lane, yet his layup didn’t even touch the rim, his 10th miss of the game.
North Carolina shot 7 of 30 (23 percent) in the first half and Berry’s desperation flip at the halftime buzzer was the Tar Heels’ only 3-pointer of the night.
The Tar Heels continued their streak of making at least one 3-pointer to 713 straight games dating to 1997. Barely. Berry’s 30-footer to end the first half was the only make and the Tar Heels performance was worse than a 1 for 16 shooting night on 3s against Duke.
Bridges appeared mostly recovered from the sprained left ankle that had limited the preseason All-American in the first two games of the tournament. Bridges played 26 minutes and had five rebounds.
Izzo had an unexpected look for the game, wearing a lightweight Michigan State hoodie rather than the collared golf shirt that most other coaches wore for the tournament.
“I’ll probably go back to dressing up a little more. I kind of like this outfit. Things don’t get in your way when you’re trying to explain to an official how bad a call he made,” Izzo joked.
The Tar Heels had won 11 straight games dating to last season when they lost to Duke in the ACC tournament.
North Carolina hosts Michigan on Wednesday night.
Michigan State hosts Notre Dame on Thursday night.