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Unpredictable Heels stun No. 1 Spartans

North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks tries to control a rebound under pressure from Michigan State’s Kenny Kaminski during the first half.

Associated Press

North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks tries to control a rebound under pressure from Michigan State’s Kenny Kaminski during the first half.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — J.P. Tokoto had 12 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to help North Carolina beat No. 1 Michigan State 79-65 Wednesday night, giving the Tar Heels another impressive victory in their inconsistent season.

North Carolina has been talented enough to defeat the top-ranked Spartans and then-No. 3 Louisville this season, but the Tar Heels also have lost to Belmont and UAB.

"You can't tell in college basketball what's going to happen," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "At one point, we had three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the court."

Michigan State (7-1) fell to an unranked nonconference team at home for the first time in more than a decade.

The Heels took control from the start, never trailed and used a 12-1 run to take a 65-52 lead with 6:02 left.

"Michigan State did not want it that much more than we did," Williams said.

Kennedy Meeks scored 15 for North Carolina and Brice Johnson had 14.

Gary Harris had 17 points and Keith Appling 13, but both Michigan State guards missed 10 of 15 shots. Adreian Payne had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans, whose last loss at home against an unranked nonconference team was to Toledo on Dec. 30, 2002.

The Tar Heels beat a No. 1 team for the first time since March 4, 2006, at Duke, though it was their nation-high 13th win over a No. 1. They've won seven straight against the Spartans, the past six under Williams, including the 2009 NCAA final.

UNC is the first unranked team in 10 seasons to go on the road and beat the No. 1 in a nonconference game.

Tokoto has taken advantage of an expanded role while P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald sit out because of NCAA eligibility concerns. The 6-foot-5 Tokoto, who is from Wisconsin, made some friends and family members happy in the stands at the Breslin Center while green-and-white clad fans didn't have much to get excited about.

Tokoto blocked a shot early in the second half, got to a loose ball and threw it to Appling while the Spartans player was out of bounds and made three straight shots later in the half to help the Heels pull away.

NO. 5 OHIO ST. 76, MARYLAND 60: LaQuinton Ross scored 17 of his 20 in the first half, hitting his first four 3-pointers, to lead the host Buckeyes (7-0) to an early lead and an easy victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

NO. 7 LOUISVILLE 90, UMKC 62: Montrezl Harrell had 14 points to lead five players in double figures for the host Cardinals (7-1), who romped in their first game against Kangaroos coach and former Louisville assistant Kareem Richardson.

NO. 8 WISCONSIN 48, UVA 38: Josh Gasser had 11 points for the visiting Badgers (9-0) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, giving coach Bo Ryan his 300th win at Wisconsin and extending UW's best start since 1993-94.

NO. 14 VILLANOVA 77, PENN 54: Darrun Hilliard had 19 points and James Bell had 14 for the host Wildcats (8-0), who won their first game as a ranked team in almost two years.

NO. 25 DAYTON 56, DEL. ST. 46: Matt Kavanaugh had 11 points and the host Flyers (7-1) overcame a sluggish first half, poor free-throw shooting and a late slump.

NEBRASKA 60, MIAMI 49: Terran Petteway scored all of his 14 in the second half as the host Cornhuskers ground out a win over the Hurricanes (5-4). Nebraska's victory allowed the Big Ten to forge a 6-6 tie in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and retain the Commissioner's Cup.

ROLLINS 74, SAINT LEO 68: Adam Allen had 21 points as the host Tars outlasted the Lions (8-2) in a Sunshine State Conference opener. Jerrel Harris scored 24 for Saint Leo.


FGCU 60, USF 55: Stephanie Haas had 22 points for the host Eagles (5-3), who erased an 11-point halftime deficit by opening the second half with a 12-1 run and stunned the Bulls (4-3). Tamara Taylor had 18 points for USF.

FSU 60, MICH. ST. 58: Natasha Howard had 23 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals for the host Seminoles (7-1). Annalise Pickrel missed a tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left for the Spartans (5-3).

UF 104, TROY 74: Jaterra Bonds and January Miller had 22 points each and Kayla Lewis had 15 rebounds as the visiting Gators (5-3) romped.

NO. 4 NOTRE DAME 77, NO. 10 PENN ST. 67: Natalie Achonwa had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Fighting Irish (7-0), who maintained a double-digit lead over the host Lions (5-2) for most of the second half.

NO. 8 MARYLAND 67, OHIO ST. 55: Alyssa Thomas had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the host Terrapins (8-1) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

NO. 11 COLO. 63, WYOMING 59: Jasmine Sborov made two free throws with five seconds left to clinch the win for the visiting Buffaloes (7-0).

NO. 18 UNC 75, NO. 15 NEBRASKA 62: Xylina McDaniel hit 11 of 15 shots and scored 25 for the host Tar Heels (7-2), who handed the Huskers (6-2) back-to-back losses.

NO. 17 OKLA. 97, W. ILLINOIS 80: Aaryn Ellenberg had 25 points to lead five players in double figures for the host Sooners (6-2).

NO. 20 IOWA ST. 83, N. IOWA 55: Hallie Christofferson had 22 points and Nikki Moody 16 points and eight assists for the host Cyclones (8-0), off to their best start in 11 seasons.

PLAYER STILL HOSPITALIZED: Antonita Slaughter, a guard for No. 7 Louisville, will have tests through today to determine what caused her to collapse during Tuesday's game.

Unpredictable Heels stun No. 1 Spartans 12/04/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 12:19am]
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