East Lansing, MI
The Michigan State Spartans entered their part of the ACC vs. B1G challenge tonight the #1 team in the nation, facing off with the North Carolina Tar Heels. They leave no longer #1. The Spartans were upset 79 to 65.
The Spartans had won 35 straight home games against non-ranked opponents before tonight. A small and inconsequential detail, but a detail nonetheless.
The Spartans starting center Matt Costello didn’t start as he was suffering potentially from mono, but it was less than four minutes into the game before Izzo put him in. MSU only did well with him in the game. The Spartans seemingly ignored the paint shooting an abysmal 7 of 24 on 3-pointers.
Costello fought and played like a warrior and was one of the only bright spots. His head coach was only happy when talking about him. He said, “It could be weeks, but if you want to praise one guy, that would be the guy.”
The Spartans picked the worst night of the year to play their worst game, but with the tournament so far away it is far from crisis point. For the game MSU shot a horrific 35% and they were outrebounded 49-38, clearly NOT Spartan basketball.
Gary Harris coming off an injured ankle wasn’t close to 100%. Not getting elevation on his shot and at one point tripping without being touched on a layup and on another just missing a bunny. He still had 17 points and five rebounds. Adreian Payne had 16 points and eight rebounds, but as I mentioned after the Mt. Saint Mary’s game, he ignored the block where his presence was frankly more needed.
MSU was outrebounded 49-38 and UNC head coach Roy Williams really summed up the game well. “We are as happy as we can be. Today Michigan State did not want it that much more than we did and want to is always so critical.” He added, “We were really good. That is how I felt. Rebounding battle when you‘re playing Tom’s team is always a battle. They are a very gifted team, but we where fortunate this evening. Tom’s club missed some shots they normally make.”
Obviously Izzo did not share Williams’s jovial nature. “Probably one of the more disappointing performance in my career here. From the jump ball they kind of took it to us. We looked like a soft team and that solely falls on me. We didn’t play hard, we didn’t play very well. We didn’t do the things that championship caliber teams need to do.”
Williams has an amazing record against Izzo. He is seven and zero as the head man at Carolina and was asked what his secret is. “My players have played better on game days. I am no better coach than Tom Izzo by any means. Sometimes we just had more talent.”
Izzo was asked about Williams “Magic” over his Spartans? “They came off a loss and looked hungry. We came off all of the hype and looked not that hungry. It’s my deal guys, it’s all on me. You don’t practice well you don’t play well. I agree with him 100%. Crowd tried to bring us back and we didn’t let that happen. We are responsible. It is one game, they made some shots…but I would say that is an honest statement.”