March Madness: 17-0 run sparks No. 1 North Carolina past No. 1 Michigan State in Sweet 16

Michigan State punched first Saturday in a battle of NCAA tournament-tested programs.

But North Carolina's offense decided the game.

The Tar Heels went on a 26-14 start with a 17-0 run to take control of the first half. North Carolina went on a 23-3 run to close the half and lead 40-31 for an 85-69 victory.

Michigan State went on an 11-2 run in the second half to cut North Carolina's lead to 48-46. But the Tar Heels never relinquished the lead. Carolina pulled away late as Michigan State had no answers to UNC's hot 3-point shooting and aggressive defense.

The win ensured a trip to the Sweet 16 for North Carolina, which improved to 6-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament against Michigan State. It will face the winner of Alabama and Grand Canyon next weekend in Los Angeles.

North Carolina's players led the way. Senior guard R.J. Davis capped a 15-0 UNC run in the first half, extending UNC's lead to 32-28 with a 3-pointer that sent the friendly Charlotte home crowd into a frenzy.

The ACC Player of the Year led the Tar Heels with 20 points. He shot 7 of 15 from the field, including 3 of 7 from 3-point range. He was one of four Tar Heels to score in double figures.

Junior Harrison Ingram hit three of North Carolina's six 3-pointers during the first-half run, including a bucket with 10 seconds left to cap the scoring in the first half. His fifth 3-pointer of the game circled around the rim and cut UNC's lead to 69-57 with 6:18 remaining.

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The bucket prompted a Michigan State timeout, and the Spartans never threatened again. Ingram finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, shooting 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

The forward has shown everything North Carolina has to do since transferring from Stanford this offseason. He played a key role in UNC's run to the No. 1 seed and gave Saturday a trip to the second weekend of the tournament.

Armando Bagot added 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The Tar Heels delivered when they were open, connecting on 10 of 26 3-pointers (38.5%) while shooting 46.7% from the field.

The Spartans also shot well from beyond the arc, but at a lower clip, connecting on 6-of-16 (37.5%) attempts. All-Big-Ten guard Tyson Walker led the Spartans' effort with 24 points. Malik Hall added 17 points and nine rebounds. Both played their final game with Michigan State as fifth-year seniors.

Michigan State won 37-32. But on a day when North Carolina took care of the ball (five turnovers) and shot well inside and out, the Spartans couldn't keep up.

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