Minus Cleaves, No. 8 MSU dumps No. 2 Tar Heels
Posted: Thursday December 02, 1999 09:20 AM
Michigan State's Charlie Bell encounters little resistance from Ed Cota on his way to the hoop. AP
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- A Final Four team from a season ago,
No. 8 Michigan State wasn't about to be intimidated playing at No.
2 North Carolina.
"This is as good a place as I've ever played in,"' coach Tom
Izzo said after Michigan State handed the Tar Heels their loss in a
home opener in 71 years, 86-76 Wednesday night.
"One advantage of playing in the Big Ten is we play in some
tough arenas. We try to play with some toughness. I always say that
good players don't win games, tough players win games," he said.
Morris Peterson scored a career-high 31 points as the Spartans
(4-1) stopped North Carolina's 55-game non-conference home winning
Peterson made 12 of 18 shots and also had five of Michigan
State's 15 steals.
"We got a chance to show the country we could come down here
and beat one of the best teams in the country," said Peterson.
The Tar Heels, coming off three impressive wins in the Maui
Invitational, last lost a home opener in 1928 to South Carolina.
They were defeated for only the sixth time in 90 such openers in
"The best team won, and, by far, the best-coached team won," said
North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge, whose club was outrebounded
43-28 and shot 33 percent in the second half.
"Coach Izzo had his team very well prepared and coach Guthridge
didn't have his team very well prepared. We were outplayed and
outcoached. I thought they were tremendous," he said.
The meeting of top 10 powers -- part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge
-- was played without Michigan State star point guard Mateen
Cleaves, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right foot.
"When they get Cleaves back I can't imagine how good they'll
be," said Guthridge.
The 6-foot-7 Peterson was sharp from various places on the
court, going 7-for-10 from the field in the first 20 minutes as the
Spartans led by as many as 12.
"We said we had to get him off early and we ran a lot of stuff
for him and he really got some shots and good looks," said Izzo.
"I thought that was a big key. Morris is a good player and
unselfish player. It ranks up there with some of the better
performances of my career as an assistant and head coach."
Peterson, whose previous career best was 27 against Iowa last
season, then sank his first three shots of the second half as
Michigan State took control.
While the Spartans seemed to grab every rebound and loose ball
from the Tar Heels, they also hit nine of their first 13 shots from
beyond the arc, including three straight 3-pointers to take a 65-48
lead with 11:52 left.
Meanwhile, the Tar Heels, who shot 58 percent in its opening
three wins, got only three field goals in the opening 12 1/2 minutes
of the second half before staging a late comeback.
The Tar Heels closed to 71-65 with 4:18 left after a technical
against Izzo and had the ball, but a turnover led to a layup by
Andre Hutson and Peterson hit a follow shot to quiet the crowd.
Joseph Forte led the Tar Heels with 19 points, while Max Owens
North Carolina started slow but still led 20-18 midway through
the half before the Spartans began to mix their inside muscle with
strong outside shooting.
Michigan State got a pair of 3-pointers from Peterson and one
from former Duke starter Mike Chappell during a 15-4 run to grab a
10-point lead and led 44-36 at intermission.
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