The worst shooting in UNC history gives Michigan State PK80 Victory bracket title
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams was disappointed and disgusted, but also took the blame
On the other sideline, Spartans coach Tom Izzo got his first victory vs. Williams as UNC coach in historic fashion. Izzo entered Sunday with an 0-7 lifetime record vs. his longtime friend and fellow Hall of Famer. He watched his team win the PK80 Victory bracket en route to holding UNC to its worst shooting performance in school history.
Strange night, but a big outcome for No. 4 Michigan State (5-1) .
"A bizarre win," Izzo said. "I've never seen Roy's team do that."
No. 9 UNC shot 24.6 percent, and was an abhorrent 1 for 18 from 3-point range, both those turnouts accounting for program records in single-game futility.
"The way we played is just about the most shocking game I've ever coached," Williams said. "Our freshmen acted like freshmen, but so did our seniors, and so did our coach."
UNC (5-1) took its first loss of the season, as the reigning national champions appeared to be struck by voodoo for most of the night. Thirteen missed layups. A batch of blown blockouts. The only 3-pointer that fell for the Heels was a casual Joel Berry long bomb just as time expired in the first half.
Sparty got 23 points from sophomore shooting guard Joshua Langford, who had his best game in a Michigan State uniform. This coming two days after sophomore point guard Cassius Winston went for a career-best 28 points in Michigan State's 77-57 victory against UConn. MSU's best player, Miles Bridges, had 17 points in two games (he didn't play Thursday vs. DePaul) and was a role player in Portland.
"I didn't think we'd ever win a game with 24 turnovers," Izzo said.
Turnovers won't kill you if the other team's building a brick house. That's the big thing for Michigan State. Izzo of course has concerns with his team's offense and its turnover rate, but you can't overstate how big it is for the long-term projection of MSU that Winston and Langford stepped up while Bridges was on the mend. Izzo repeatedly said at the press conference that his star sophomore forward is not yet at 100 percent. Bridges played, but he's not all the way there. Against a highly ranked UNC team, it wound up not mattering.
On the whole, MSU's defense induced a horrific night for North Carolina. Williams can lay the blame on himself if he must but it seemed clear that the Spartans were affecting UNC for almost the entire game. Blown layups on breakaways? The Tar Heels were seeing ghosts.
UNC came into the game averaging 94 points. It couldn't hit half that total on Sunday. The Tar Heels had been hitting from 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3 this season. Against the Spartans, they wound up connecting on 24.6 percent of their shots and a 5.6 clip from deep.
"About as bad an exhibition as I've ever seen," Williams said, sure to reinforce the point in his brief press conference.
Williams said he doesn't believe in "burn the tape" mentality. The team will look at this, and they will learn from it. Williams wants to know what he did wrong.
"How can you play that poorly?" he said. "We don't even box out the free-throw shooter. I will look at myself a million times more than I look at the kids."
A sloppy game and a weird one. Doesn't mean UNC's doomed for a flawed season. UNC's Luke Maye, who has been one of the best players in college hoops so far (and made the all-Victory tournament team), finished with eight points and six boards.
The game reveals more for MSU in a victory than UNC in a loss. Carolina's never going to have an offensive performance this bad under Williams again. The Spartans, though, were waiting on offensive development and short-term growth from their stud sophomore class. Sunday night provided that, and now we know that Michigan State is Final Four caliber -- because it won't have to rely on Miles Bridges to be outstanding in order to beat most of the country's best teams.
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