EAST LANSING, Mich. — Capturing a win against a top-five team after suffering a loss to an unranked foe seemed improbable the first time, and it felt even more unlikely the second — especially with the added hurdle of playing in a hostile arena.
And, yet, as time expired in an emptying and deflated Breslin Center, the North Carolina basketball team was celebrating on the sideline after defeating No. 1 Michigan State 79-65. It was the first time the Tar Heels toppled a No. 1 team as an unranked club since 1990.
“It’s amazing,” said forward Brice Johnson, who finished with 14 points. “It’s the best feeling, knowing that you can silence the crowd when they’re so hyped up, knowing you’re the underdog.”
Coach Roy Williams, who now holds a career 7-1 record against Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, talked to reporters after the game, smiling and refraining, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.”
“We’re as happy as we can possibly be,” he said. “We’re 179 degrees away from where we were at the UAB game.”