University of North Carolina Athletics

By Adam Lucas

1. Carolina won a slugfest with Michigan State, outscoring the Spartans 85-69 to move to the round of 16.

2. The win extends Carolina’s nation-leading total to 133 NCAA Tournament wins. Game time Thursday against the winner of Alabama and Grand Canyon in Los Angeles is not yet known.

3. Thank you, Harrison Ingram. The Carolina forward tied his career high with five three-pointers, putting up 17 points to go with his seven rebounds. RJ Davis had a game-high 20, and Armando Bacot put up 18 points. Cormac Ryan was the fourth Heel in double figures with 14 points.

4. The two blocks from Seth Trimble midway through the second half were about as good as you’re going to see from a guard (and then he added a third with 7:26 remaining, although it wasn’t counted as one). Trimble got the first one on big man Jaxon Kohler in the post, and then chased down A.J. Hoggard in transition to get another one 90 seconds later. In a game where Elliot Cadeau was not effective–a concerning trend (he’s now 6-25 from the field in the last four games)–Trimble was huge off the bench.

5. Say this for Cadeau, though. He sat for a long chunk of the second half–ten minutes of game action. When he came back in, he immediately went hard to the rim and scored. That was exactly the type of aggressive play Carolina needs from him on offense.

6. Trimble was aided in the second half by fellow reserve Jae’Lyn Withers, who had a sensational stretch with under 10 minutes to play in the game. During that period, he forced two Michigan State turnovers, grabbed an offensive rebound and scored four points. Contributions from the bench are essential at this time of year and Carolina got them on Saturday–including a big follow dunk from Jalen Washington with under five minutes to play. Withers has 39 rebounds in his last six games.

7. Extremely unusual first half in which Carolina did not get an offensive rebound and was outworked, 18-12, on the backboards. Armando Bacot had just one rebound as Michigan State was very tough on the glass. But Bacot had a stellar overall half, including two blocked shots and aggressive play around the rim that countered the Spartans’ early aggressiveness. He shot eight free throws in the first half, converting seven.

8. Those rebounding numbers changed in the second half, especially offensively. The Tar Heels gathered in five offensive boards in the final 20 minutes and turned them into 10 second chance points. That was an important part of the offense–along with points off turnovers, where the Heels had 16–as Carolina stretched out the lead. The Spartans still won the overall rebounding battle, 37-31. 

9. But the Heels countered those early rebounding struggles by eventually warming up from the field. Carolina started 2-for-10 from the three-point line, but hit four of their final six trifectas over the final 5:36 of the first half. That included a Harrison Ingram swish near the buzzer after a Hubert Davis timeout to set up the final possession.

10. This is not exactly a secret, but opponents have decided to stop guarding Elliot Cadeau on the perimeter. It’s a tantalizing position for the freshman–there is no one within multiple feet of him and he feels like he has to shoot it, but it’s obvious he doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the shot right now. He missed all four of his three-point shots on Saturday.

11. Big minutes late in the half from the Tar Heel bench. Paxson Wojcik had a couple rebounds and pushed one up the court that the Heels turned into a Davis three-pointer, and Jalen Washington had an active six minutes

12. Carolina is now 14-1 in Charlotte in the NCAA Tournament and 36-2 in the state of North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. They are also 6-0 against Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament, with this one coming 67 years and one day after the first one–a triple-overtime victory in the 1957 national semifinals. Great Tar Heel crowd at the Spectrum Center on Saturday.

13. We’ll leave you with a funny quote from Saturday’s Tar Heel Sports Network analyst, Tyler Hansbrough. Asked about the famous photo of Michigan State players looking at him in apparent awe during the 2007 NCAA Tournament, he said, “I was kind of lost looking for our locker room. I didn’t expect to turn the corner and see Michigan State. They saw me, I saw them, and I was like, ‘Clearly this isn’t the right way.'”

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