North Carolina vs. Mississippi State: Live Score, Reaction for Maui Invitational
The game was never even close between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the North Carolina Tar Heels in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
UNC showed why they deserve their No. 9 ranking, as they absolutely crushed the Bulldogs 95-49. The treys did turn out to be the story of the game, as I predicted.
Carolina was 15-of-33 from downtown, while Mississippi State could only muster two treys on 17 attempts.
The day started off with a miracle win, but it just wasn't to be for the depleted Bulldogs.
The Tar Heels will take on the Butler Bulldogs, who took out the Marquette Golden Eagles with a buzzer-beater by Rotnei Clarke in the opener.
Where: Lahaina Civic Center, Maui, HI
When: Monday, November 19 at 6 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN2, ESPN3
There wasn't much the Bulldogs could do to slow down the Tar Heels on this night.
They did manage to hold UNC's leading scorer, James Michael McAdoo, to 4-of-8 shooting and only four rebounds. But their concentration on McAdoo left the guards open for some good downtown looks.
The Tar Heels shot 45.5 percent beyond the arc, nailing down 15 of them.
I can't argue with the strategy by head coach Rick Ray. After all, that's the strategy I laid out in the pregame. It was really their only hope with disparity in talent.
The Bulldogs were working with only six scholarship players coming into the game, after losing three to injury and another to suspension.
Beyond the threes, turnovers were another issue for the Bulldogs on this night. The Tar Heels' athletic defense forced 22 turnovers—15 of those were steals, marking a season-high for this stingy defense.
Dexter Strickland led the way six steals for UNC.
The Tar Heels also held the Bulldogs to 27.9 percent shooting from the floor. That won't win many games against the worst competition.
The Bulldogs never game up, though, and should be commended for their effort. Despite a 32-point deficit, they still came out playing hard in the second half. It looked like things could go their way at one point, but there was just too much ground to make up.
Leslie McDonald led all scorers with 21 points off 6-of-10 shooting from three. Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston both hit four treys, scoring 16 and 18 points, respectively.
The game finally comes to a merciful end, as the Tar Heels bury the Bulldogs 91-47.
Make that 15-of-31 now, after another trey from McDonald. He is 6-for-10 on the night. Roy finally pulled him to rest that wrist. Put some ice on that thing, Leslie.
Forget about the season-high points, Carolina is just lighting up the net from downtown. They are 14-of-29 on the night. Their previous best was 10-of-26 against Long Beach State.
With the score at 82-40, Carolina has just eclipsed their season-high in points. There is still four minutes to go.
Hairston is 4-of-7 from three, including his 60-foot buzzer-beater to end the half.
Yet again, as I was typing, Hairston buried another one. He was a good 25 feet out on the last one. He definitely has his stroke tonight.
With six minutes left in the game, Carolina is just three points from their highest total of the season after another Hairston three.
J.P. Tokoto just made his presence felt with a baseline slam. That kid has some insane ups. It just looks effortless.
No player has hit double-digits in scoring for the Bulldogs. Wendell Lewis leads the squad with just eight points.
On the flip side, UNC has five players in double-digits. Hairston is second behind Bullock with 12.
Just as I say that, Bullock knows down another trey. He is 4-of-5 on the night, and leads the Tar Heels with 16 points.
The Bulldogs are doing a much better job of contesting shots in the second half.
Great ball movement by the Tar Heels. Just about all of them got a touch on that possession, capping it off with Desmond Hubert slam.
Hubert had a chance at the and-1, but he missed the free throw. Hubert is 0-for-5 from the line this season.
Surprisingly the Tar Heels have only shot six free throws to this point. The Bulldogs just aren't forcing UNC into tough shots.
The Tar Heels lead 61-31 with 12:07 to go.
The Bulldogs continue to settle for the three ball, despite shooting 1-of-12 beyond the arc.
Tally another three for McDonald. Carolina is 9-of-16 from three-point range.
Strickland just snatched his fourth steal of the game, taking it coast-to-coast for the contested lay-in. Carolina leads 54-25 with 15:58 left.
The call is a flagrant one, which is hard to argue. It didn't look like McAdoo wanted to mane him, but it was definitely unnecessary.
McAdoo caught Johnson with the elbow, dropping him to the floor. The officials are reviewing the play to see if it was flagrant.
Wendell Lewis gets the first points of the half with an 18-footer on the baseline. Those are the looks the Bulldogs need.
It's going to hard for Mississippi State to come back from the 32-point deficit, but they are going to have to slow things down on the offensive end. They need to take good shots and limit Carolina's possessions.
Why not add half-court buzzer-beater to that? Hairston was shooting from Mississippi State's three-point line. Absolutely nuts!
And P.J. Hairston just followed that possession with another one. This is getting a little out of hand.
Oh man. Now Leslie McDonald has joined the party for the Tar Heels, knocking down yet another three.
At the two-minute mark, UNC is leading 40-15.
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