It has been a minute since North Carolina truly got their butts kicked. It has been long enough that you could almost forget how miserable it feels. The Tar Heels got walloped in the PK80 championship against Michigan State on a night when absolutely nothing went right.
Michigan State just did everything better than the Tar Heels Sunday night. Carolina’s shooting was a putrid 24.6%. These games happen, especially for a younger team trying to iron out the early season kinks. However, a lot of their struggles were just uncharacteristic. The Heels missed an astounding 13 layups in the game, nearly as many as they actually made.
The shots wouldn’t fall for anyone wearing Carolina blue. Luke Maye, who has been the team’s MVP early on, had a terrible night. The offense as a whole was completely out of sorts for 98% of the game. It never looked fluid or comfortable. Their field goal percentage was the lowest in program history.
UNC’s defense wasn’t bad, actually, holding Michigan State to just 63 points. The Heels narrowly avoiding turning in the lowest point total under Roy Williams, which was 43 set against Virginia last season. Theo Pinson led the way with 16 points, thanks to a late-game burst. Only six players made their way into the scoring column at all.
The Spartans had their way with the Heels on the glass, which was Carolina’s great advantage all of last season. Michigan State out-rebounded UNC 52-36 for the game. The Heels did force 24 Spartan turnovers, but so many things went wrong that it ended up not really mattering in the slightest beyond possibly keeping things as close as it was.
As much as it sucks, these games happen. UNC laid absolute eggs last season at Georgia Tech, at Miami, and at Indiana. They looked as discombobulated in those games as they did tonight. Yes, it’s frustrating. Yes, it is going to require a lot of improvement. Yes, they looked incredibly shaken by the moment tonight. Still, they can use this as a learning experience going forward.
Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. This is the result of that. It feels bad right now, but there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Roy Williams will use this to make this team better.