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Mar 23, 2024 8:13 pm

North Carolina recovers to bounce Michigan State, 85-69

Michigan State, North Carolina

CHARLOTTE — RJ Davis scored 20 points and No. 1 seed North Carolina shrugged off a slow start and a couple of shaky moments to defeat Michigan State 85-69 in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region second round Saturday night.

Armando Bacot added 18 points and Harrison Ingram had 17 as the Tar Heels delighted a partisan crowd and were sent off to the West Coast with momentum after two games in their home state. Cormac Ryan’s 14 points also came in handy for North Carolina, which committed only five turnovers.

North Carolina (29-7), which benefited from a 17-0 first-half run, goes on to face Alabama or Grand Canyon in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Tyson Walker’s 24 points paced ninth-seeded Michigan State (20-15), which began the season ranked No. 4 in the country. The Spartans also received 17 points from Malik Hall and 11 from Jaden Akins.

Michigan State, which led by a dozen points in the first half, became the victim of a couple of key scoring runs by the Tar Heels.

North Carolina has now won all six NCAA Tournament meetings with Michigan State, most recently in the 2009 title game.

Michigan State closed within 57-53 with more than 10 minutes to play, and it was 62-57 before Jae’Lyn Withers’ second basket in a 36-second span began North Carolina’s 7-0 spurt.

The Tar Heels made 10 shots from 3-point range and outscored Michigan State 19-11 on free throws.

Earlier, the Spartans were up 26-1 but couldn’t maintain their defensive intensity, and part of that was connected to offensive glitches. Michigan State connected on only one field goal in the final eight minutes of the first half, which ended with the Tar Heels leading 40-31.

That certainly had the crowd fired up as North Carolina was on the way to winning for the 14th time in 15 all-time NCAA Tournament games in Charlotte.

North Carolina ended up with a rare rebounding deficit (37-32), but it didn’t matter as Michigan State had 11 turnovers.

The teams were cleaning up on the defensive boards. The only first-half offensive rebound for either team came from Michigan State’s Akins.

–Bob Sutton, Field Level Media

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