Tar Heels Slip Out of Reach in NCAA Championship

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Emma Carroll writes, Heaven knows Detroit needed something to cheer about the night of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament…

Heaven knows Detroit needed something to cheer about the night of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and with the Michigan State Spartans in the finals, it looked like some light would be shed by a Spartan win. The North Carolina Tar Heels would have none of it.North Carolina was coming off a semifinal win against the #3 ranked Villanova Wildcats and looking to repeat it in the finals. UNC’s Ty Lawson scored 22 points that night, while teammates Tyler Hansbrough scored 18 and Wayne Ellington scored 20. Villanova ended the season 30-8, but were no match for the then 33-4 Tar Heels. Nova shot only 33% on the court and went 5-for-27 in the three point range. By half time, UNC led 49-40. They would go on to finish them off at 83-69.#2 ranked Michigan State (then 31-6) basked in the glow of an entire state in their 82-73 win over #1 ranked University of Connecticut Huskies (31-5), a strong and confident team with dominant players like Hasheem Thabeet, Jerome Dyson, and AJ Price just couldn’t match Mich State’s Raymar Morgan’s 11 points in the first half and 18 total, Korie Lucious’ 9 points in a 1 1/2 minute time period, and Kalin Lucas’ 21 points. Mich State big man center (he stands 6’10” and weighs 245) Goran Suton was given the job of coralling Hasheem Thabeet, who scored 17 points and led the Huskies with six rebounds. Coming into the finals April 6, Mich State was looking for a repeat.The Tar Heels weren’t willing to give them one. They were shooting 85.5% by the first timeout. A 55-34 score at half time in UNC’s favor meant trouble for Mich State, and a NCAA record for a title game. Though UNC point guard Ty Lawson shot only 3-of-10 from the field, teammate and Final Four MVP Wayne Ellington made up for it by hitting 7-of-9, all three 3-pointers, and scoring a total of 17 points in the first half.The Spartan’s couldn’t keep up. Suton led the Spartans with 17 points, and Kalin Lucas scored 14. Suton would go 3-of-4 in three pointers, and . Mich State turned over the ball 21 times, resulting in 25 points scored by the Tar Heels. Ty Lawson stole it from them 7 times. Lawson also 15-of-18 free throws to contribute to a total of 40 by the team. He had a game-high 21 points.”My mind-set was to slow down Kalin Lucas,” Lawson commented. “He’s the heart and soul of the team. I was trying to deny him him the passing lanes and make it hard for him to do the things he wanted to do.”A predominantly green clad record crowd of 72,922 didn’t have too much to cheer about that night. The Spartans trailed the whole night. At 12:30 left in the game, Durrell Summers made a layup to increase the score to 62-46 and reduce the deficit to 16. Two free throws at 4:57 pulled it up to 76-63 and a 13 point deficit. The Spartans would get no closer.”When we cut it down to 13, 14, we had some chances. It just wasn’t our night,” Mich State coach Tom Izzo said.It certainly wasn’t their night. UNC matched its season average for points and beat Michigan State 89-72. The win marked five national championship titles for North Carolina, tied with Indiana. They are six behind the first place UCLA Bruins who have 11 national titles, and two behind Kentucky Wildcats with seven championships.North Carolina also set a record of 102 total NCAA Tournament wins. That’s a number to make UNC coach Roy Williams happy who reached his fifth Final Four in his past eight seasons.Tom Izzo spoke about the 35-point loss, saying, “We had some injured players then. If everybody had been healthy, we would have lost by only 20.”It was a gloomy loss for Michigan State and the state of Michigan, who needed something to smile about in the economic downturn. But even a billion dollar bailout couldn’t have stopped Hansbrough, Ellington, Lawson, and the Tar Heels.Sources:Official Websites of University of North Carolina, University of Kentucky, Villanova, Michigan State University, University of Connecticut, and The Denver Post.

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