Tar Heels First Half Too Much For MSU To Overcome

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Chapel Hill, NC

MSU 82, UNC 89

What started as a chess match quickly looked like a repeat of last year’s national championship game. Michigan State came into the “Dean Dome” hoping to avenge a series of losses to Carolina that dated back to the 2005 Final Four and a pair at Ford Field last season.

Michigan State appeared to be asserting themselves for an evening of grind it out basketball when the Tar Heels dug in and proceeded to catch fire. Oh the sky-blue pom pons were on display. The crowd cheered as though they were ready for another national championship and when the last shot before the half was buried for a Carolina “3”, the score read NC 50, MSU 34.

The Spartans did their best to challenge each and every shot, but it didn’t matter. Everything Carolina threw up found the bottom of the net. Michigan State just could not get over the offensive hump. I have rarely seen a team shoot the way Carolina did tonight against Michigan State.  I have never seen MSU’s backcourt shoot as poorly as it did either. The last time it happened was in last year’s NCAA final against the Tar Heels.

There wasn’t a guard on the MSU roster that could find a shooting rhythm. As well as Carolina played, MSU’s guards just had a poor shooting night. Coach Izzo was noticeably aggravated by the games outcome, but did not seem to lose his spirit. “We will continue to schedule anyone, anywhere or anytime… in fifteen years, I have not backed down from anyone.”

The Michigan State backcourt was a collective 2-20 from 3-point range. When you are on the road in Chapel Hill, 2-20 makes it a long road. Somehow, someway, MSU was able to compose itself and make it a game in the second half. If there was anything that the MSU players could hold their heads up about, it was the effort they put forth battling back.

Coach Izzo schedules these games so that MSU is prepared in March. This game should go a long way toward toughening MSU’s mindset. By the end of the game MSU believed that they could weather the Carolina storm. It is never fun to lose, but I’d sooner lose to Roy Williams and Carolina than a lot of other programs around the country.

When Roy was asked about the color green being that of a soothing color for his Tar Heels, Roy was nothing but class. He cast the question aside by saying that he has the utmost respect for Tom Izzo and his program. “The ultimate complement is whether or not you’d want your son to play for a coach… Tom Izzo is that kind of coach.”

There was plenty of respect between the men in green and the guys in baby blue. It is hard to point to this loss as just another game, but the reality is that it is December. The rankings matter little and these experiences are invaluable. This MSU team has a lot of growing left to do. It will get better and the good news is that Delvon Roe is just now becoming the player we thought he could be. Our guards won’t shoot this poorly in another game the rest of the year. Tom Izzo concurred. “Our three best shooters couldn’t make a shot. But I thought we had some good looks, I really did.”

Draymond Green is starting become a force on the interior as an undersized big man and Raymar is starting to find his rhythm. The key to MSU’s season is to have Lucas and Morgan playing well together. As Raymar Morgan goes, Michigan State will go this season. Raymar was 7-10 from the field, he got going early and did not let the atmosphere take him out of the game. He was a warrior tonight.

Michigan State was out rebounded by five the intermission, but found a way to even up the boards by the end of the game. Izzo is a big game coach who lives to coach in them. I know that as much as this game will be trumpeted around the media as the next big Carolina victory, it won’t dent MSU’s armor. Don’t kid yourself; there isn’t a Tar Heel fan in the country that hopes they draw Michigan State in their tournament bracket.