In front of a tournament record crowd, the favored University of North Carolina has claimed the men's national collegiate basketball title.
North Carolina, which was making its record 18th appearance at the Final Four, started Monday night's title game in high gear. Unfazed by the wildly partisan Michigan State crowd, the Tar Heels hit six of their first seven shots and jumped out to a 17-7 lead. The 72,922 fans set a new record for the tournament championship game.
Michigan State helped by turning the ball over 14 times in the first half. North Carolina Coach Roy Williams gave credit to his defense and Ty Lawson's record eight steals.
"Down the stretch this year, we've been pretty doggone good," he said. "And, Ty was a huge part of that tonight. When he is really active, it is the front line of our defense and he is fantastic."
North Carolina continued to dominate, getting 17 points from Wayne Ellington to go up by as much as 24 points before ending the first half, with a 55-34 lead. The team's offensive explosion broke the old NCAA record of 53 points in a half. Michigan State's Travis Walton talks about falling behind early.
"Every time we made a decent run and our crowd got into it, they made a great play," he said. "That is why they won the national championship, [Be]cause they [are] a great team."
North Carolina slowed down the pace of the game in the second half, content to take time off the clock and maintain the lead. Michigan State never really threatened, getting no closer than a 13-point deficit before North Carolina took the title, 89-72.
Ty Lawson led North Carolina in scoring with 21 points, while Ellington - who ended the game with 19 points - was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. He talks about winning the award.
"Ahh, it feels good," he admitted. "You know, early in the season when my shot was not falling the way I wanted it to, I just stuck with it, fought through it, and it came back to me. And, it feels good. It shows hard work pays off and you really cannot give up on yourself. "
Goran Suton led all Michigan State scorers with 17 points. The victory was North Carolina's fifth national championship.