PORTLAND, ORE. — Tom Izzo finally got the better of Roy Williams with a record performance Michigan State would like to replicate — and North Carolina would rather soon forget.
Sometimes playing ugly still matters.
“What I think this does is reassure our guys,” Izzo said. “The way basketball is right now, it’s all the pretty boys stuff but at the end of the day most of the good teams are still winning by doing the dirty work.”
Joshua Langford made five 3-pointers and scored 23 points and No. 4 Michigan State used a record-setting defensive performance to topple No. 9 North Carolina 63-45 on Sunday night to win the “Victory Bracket” of the PK80 Invitational.
Izzo bested North Carolina for the first time with Williams in charge in Chapel Hill by holding the Tar Heels to the worst shooting performance in school history. The Tar Heels shot 24.6 percent. They were 1 of 18 on 3s, also the worst effort in the school’s history. The 45 points tied for the second-fewest scored by the Tar Heels with Williams as head coach.
In the three games in Portland, the Spartans allowed 57, 51 and 45 points. They imposed themselves on the defensive end, bullying the opposition. Shots were contested. Lanes were clogged. The Spartans made nothing easy and it was capped by a record performance against the Tar Heels that left Williams apologetic.
“So far this year the freshmen haven’t necessarily played like freshmen. Today the freshmen played lime freshmen, and the sophomores, juniors and seniors played like freshmen. And the coach coached like he’d never seen a game of basketball in his life,” Williams said. “Other than that, it’s not a bad night.”
Langford was key in the first half as the Spartans (5-1) built a 13-point halftime lead despite Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. being limited with foul trouble. Langford had 14 points in the first half as Michigan State used an 11-4 run to take control and were never threatened by the Tar Heels.
Bridges finished with 11 points and the Spartans felt they got a bit of redemption after stumbling in their first matchup with a top 10 team losing 88-81 to Duke on Nov. 14.
“This is a great team win because we won the game on the defensive end,” Langford said.
Theo Pinson led North Carolina (5-1) with 16 points, but Joel Berry II and Luke Maye both had awful nights. The Tar Heels trimmed the 21-point deficit to 12 with 4:30 left, but Bridges stemmed the run with a driving layup.
Maye had been brilliant to start the season for North Carolina but was 3 of 13 shooting, missed five free throws and finished with just eight points. Michigan State challenged seemingly every shot in the paint and the Tar Heels had no outside shooting.
Berry was 2 of 11 overall. The Tar Heels had more turnovers (16) than field goals (15).
“They punched us right in the mouth and we just let them punch us and didn’t fight back at all,” Berry said. “They just took us out of what we wanted to do.”
North Carolina’s night was so awful even the easiest plays became difficult. Kenny Williams made a fine interception of a pass in the first half but his breakaway layup caromed off the front rim and Winston drilled a 3-pointer at the other end to push Michigan State’s lead to 33-17. Late in the second half, Maye was wide open on a drive down the lane, yet his layup didn’t even touch the rim, his 10th miss of the game.
North Carolina shot 7 of 30 (23 percent) in the first half and Berry’s desperation flip at the halftime buzzer was the Tar Heels’ only 3-pointer of the night.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels continued their streak of making at least one 3-pointer to 713 straight games dating to 1997. Barely. Berry’s 30-footer to end the first half was the only make and the Tar Heels performance was worse than a 1 for 16 shooting night on 3s against Duke.
Michigan State: Bridges appeared mostly recovered from the sprained left ankle that had limited the preseason All-American in the first two games of the tournament. Bridges played 26 minutes and had five rebounds.
WAS IT THE HOODIE?
Izzo had an unexpected look for the game, wearing a lightweight Michigan State hoodie rather than the collared golf shirt that most other coaches wore for the tournament.
“I’ll probably go back to dressing up a little more. I kind of like this outfit. Things don’t get in your way when you’re trying to explain to an official how bad a call he made,” Izzo joked.
The Tar Heels had won 11 straight games dating to last season when they lost to Duke in the ACC tournament.
North Carolina: Host Michigan on Wednesday night.
Michigan State: Host Notre Dame on Thursday night.
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Larry Nance Jr. to wear his dad’s retired No. 22 with Cavs
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers will again have a No. 22, and he looks eerily familiar.
Larry Nance Jr. is getting to honor his father by wearing his dad’s retired No. 22 jersey with the Cavs, who worked with the NBA to make the unique tribute possible.
“My dad’s jersey will get to stay retired in the rafters, so, I couldn’t be happier with it,” Nance Jr. said Thursday night before making his home debut with the Cavs, who recently acquired him in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. “I’m thrilled. I’ve been wearing 22 my whole life and to get to wear it for the Cleveland Cavaliers is beyond a dream come true.”
Nance Jr. will begin wearing No. 22 next week. For now, he’ll be in No. 24, the number he chose after he was obtained from the Lakers.
When he was traded, Nance Jr. considered how special it would be to wear his dad’s number, which was retired by the Cavs in 1995 and hangs above Quicken Loans Arena. Larry Nance Sr. spent eight seasons with Cleveland and was a fan favorite because of his shot blocking and dunking skills.
The kid is just like his dad.
The younger Nance said his dad didn’t have a big reaction when he got the news.
“I called him and told him yesterday that we were kind of talking about it and got it passed,” he said. “My dad is a man of few words so he kind of just let me know with a smile that he was excited.”
Last weekend in Los Angeles, Nance Jr. wore his father’s No. 22 Phoenix jersey while participating in the dunk contest at the All-Star Game. Nance Jr. took his look a step further by dressing like his dad when he played in the 1980s.
Will he bring back the retro look?
“This means short shorts and high white socks,” Nance joked. “Absolutely.”
Nance Jr. was bracing himself for an emotional homecoming in his first home game with the Cavs. He cracked that one of the only problems he had since his return to Ohio was that his mom was trying to convince him to live at home again.
She’s relaxed on that request.
“They’re actually looking at a house right now,” he said. “So I think I’ve got her once she kind of got some national attention she was like, ‘Oh, gosh. All right. I guess.’”
Noren, Simpson lead at Honda; Woods has solid 70
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods had what he called “easily” his best round hitting the ball, and he didn’t even break par at the Honda Classic.
Alex Noren and Webb Simpson shared the lead at 4-under 66 in steady wind on a penal PGA National golf course, and felt as though they had to work hard for it. Both dropped only one shot Thursday, which might have been as great an accomplishment as any of their birdies.
“When you stand on certain tee boxes or certain approach shots, you remember that, ‘Man, this is one of the hardest courses we play all year, including majors,’” said Simpson, who is playing the Honda Classic for the first time in seven years.
Only 20 players broke par, and just as many were at 76 or worse.
Woods had only one big blunder — a double bogey on the par-5 third hole when he missed the green and missed a 3-foot putt — in an otherwise stress-free round. He had one other bogey against three birdies, and was rarely out of position. Even one of his two wild drives, when his ball landed behind two carts that were selling frozen lemonade and soft pretzels, he still had a good angle to the green.
“It was very positive today,” Woods said. “It was a tough day out there for all of us, and even par is a good score.”
It was plenty tough for Adam Scott, who again stumbled his way through the closing stretch of holes that feature water, water and more water. Scott went into the water on the par-3 15th and made double bogey, and then hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made triple bogey. He shot 73.
Rory McIlroy was at even par deep into the back nine when he figured his last chance at birdie would be the par-5 18th. Once he got there, he figured his best chance at birdie was to hit 3-wood on or near the green. Instead, he came up a yard short and into the water, made double bogey and shot 72.
Noren, who lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines last month, shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 6-foot birdie on the ninth hole into a strong wind for his 66.
The Swede is a nine-time winner on the European Tour who is No. 16 in the world, though he has yet to make a connection among American golf fans — outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma, from his college days at Oklahoma State — from not having fared well at big events. Noren spends time in South Florida during the winter, so he’s getting used to this variety of putting surfaces.
“I came over here to try to play some more American-style courses, get firmer greens, more rough, and to improve my driving and improve my long game,” Noren said. “So it’s been great.”
PGA champion Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Morgan Hoffmann — who all live up the road in Jupiter — opened with a 67. There’s not much of an advantage because hardly anyone plays PGA National the other 51 weeks of the year. It’s a resort that gets plenty of traffic, and conditions aren’t quite the same.
Louis Oosthuizen, the South African who now lives primarily in West Palm Beach, also came out to PGA National a few weeks ago to get a feel for the course. He was just like everyone else that day — carts on paths only. Not everyone can hole a bunker shot on the final hole at No. 9 for a 67. Mackenzie Hughes of Canada shot his 67 with a bogey from a bunker on No. 9.
Woods, in his third PGA Tour event since returning from a fourth back surgery, appears to be making progress.
“One bad hole,” he said. “That’s the way it goes.”
It came on the easiest hole on the course. Woods drove into a fairway bunker on the par-5 third, laid up and put his third shot in a bunker. He barely got it out to the collar, used the edge of his sand wedge to putt it down toward the hole and missed the 3-foot par putt.
He answered with a birdie and made pars the rest of the way.
“I’m trying to get better, more efficient at what I’m doing,” Woods said. “And also I’m actually doing it under the gun, under the pressure of having to hit golf shots, and this golf course is not forgiving whatsoever. I was very happy with the way I hit it today.”
Woods played with Patton Kizzire, who already has won twice on the PGA Tour season this year. Kizzire had never met Woods until Thursday, and he yanked his opening tee shot into a palmetto bush. No one could find it, so he had to return to the tee to play his third shot. Kizzire covered the 505 yards in three shots, an outstanding bogey considering the two-shot penalty.
Later, he laughed about the moment.
“I was so nervous,” Kizzire said. “I said to Tiger, ‘Why did you have to make me so nervous?’”
NBA setting up hotline to report misconduct, work concerns
NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA is establishing a confidential hotline for league and team employees to report concerns about misconduct in their workplace.
The move comes after a Sports Illustrated report that described a hostile environment for women in the Dallas Mavericks organization.
Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to teams Thursday detailing plans for the hotline and asking them to review their respect in the workplace policies. The memo states that “respect and integrity are core NBA values, and we all must work to ensure that they are reflected in the culture and workplaces of our organizations.”
The memo, obtained by The Associated Press and other organizations, asks teams to complete their review of their policies by March 6.
The hotline will allow employees to report concerns “including but not limited to sexual harassment, illegality, or other misconduct,” the memo stated.
It also stated that league office employees were told in December about plans to conduct mandatory, small-group discussions facilitated by outside experts to ensure a full understanding of issues related to sexual harassment and expectations for to behave in the workplace. In the memo, Silver encourages teams to implement the same program in their organizations.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers remembers having to attend a sensitivity course when he was in Boston, annoyed at first because it was on a day off.
“But after it, you did learn some things that we all should know. I think it’s good. I think the league has continued to do that,” Rivers said.
“I think it’s good for sports, I think it’s good for our young athletes to hear this and see this and understand no matter who you are and how good you are or how popular you are, you still have to treat everybody with respect and the right way. There are a lot of people that will fall, and that’s fine by me. I just think it’s great … I have a daughter and I think it’s great that this is where we’re at right now, and we have a long way to go.”
A number of other teams also do sensitivity training.
The SI story this week detailed allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by former Mavericks President Terdema Ussery, and said team website reporter Earl Sneed was twice accused of domestic assault while working for the Mavericks.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told the magazine he was “embarrassed” and that it needs to be fixed.
The Mavericks have hired Evan Krutoy and Anne Milgram to lead the independent investigation.
Krutoy served as a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for over 20 years and served as Acting Deputy Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit. Milgram is a professor at New York University School of Law, and a former New Jersey attorney general.
The NBA has said it would “closely monitor” the investigation.
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