MAUI, Hawaii — The Mississippi State University men’s basketball team couldn’t match the firepower of No. 9 University of North Carolina in a 95-49 loss on Monday night in the opening round of the Maui Classic.
North Carolina (4-0) made 15 3-pointers and led from start to finish to drop MSU to 1-2.
MSU will face Marquette University at 1:30 p.m. today (ESPN2).
North Carolina scored the game’s first nine points and wasn’t threatened after that. UNC hit 11 of its first 12 shots from the field and finished the night shooting 47 percent from the field, including 46 percent from 3-point range.
“(North Carolina) made a bunch of big plays early,” MSU assistant coach Chris Hollender said. “They went at us and we didn’t respond. As the game went on, we responded better and competed a little bit better. We are short-handed, but I thought we competed hard in the second half.”
North Carolina enjoyed three first-half runs of 9-0 or greater. A Wendell Lewis jumper brought MSU within 18-6 midway through the first half. The Tar Heels forced four turnovers in an 11-0 run.
After a dunk by former Starkville High School standout Gavin Ware brought the Bulldogs within 43-17, North Carolina scored the first half’s final six points. MSU shot 20 percent from the field in the opening half.
“We didn’t get short shots to fall,” Hollender said. “We got balls to the rim, but the shots came up short. We had several players do a good job of getting the ball inside. We had chances, but we couldn’t get some shots to fall.”
The Bulldogs closed within 26 on a couple of occasions thanks to some strong offensive play by Roquez Johnson and Ware.
North Carolina answered with an 8-0 run to open a 59-25 advantage with 14 minutes, 37 seconds left in regulation.
MSU hit 17 of 60 shots from the field (28.3 percent), 2 of 17 shots from 3-point range (11.8 percent), and 13 of 19 shots from the foul line (68.4 percent). North Carolina hit 37 of 78 shots from the field (47.4 percent), 15 of 32 shots from 3-point range (46.9 percent), and 6 of 9 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).
North Carolina held a 47-43 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had six assists and 21 turnovers, while the Tar Heels had 22 assists and 12 turnovers.
Johnson paced the Bulldogs (1-2) with 12 points, while Lewis added 10 points. Ware had nine rebounds, while Johnson added seven and Lewis added six.
North Carolina (4-0) received 21 points from Leslie McDonald, who was 6 of 10 from 3-point range. P.J. Hairston (18 points), Reggie Bullock (16), James Michael McAdoo and Dexter Strickland (10 each) also scored in double figures.