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Monday, April 6, 2009
Heels have Sparty on the ropes at half

DETROIT -- They were right. The players and coaches who insisted this game wouldn't be a repeat of the December meeting between North Carolina and Michigan State were exactly right.

This isn't a repeat.

It's worse.

In December, North Carolina led 53-39 at the break. Tonight, it's 55-34, the most lopsided halftime whupping in a national championship game. The previous record belonged to Ohio State, which led California by 18 in 1960.

North Carolina also scored the most points ever in the first half of a title game. The previous record was Syracuse's 53 versus Kansas in 2003.

North Carolina came out bumping people out of the way -- Deon Thompson sort of walked into Travis Walton at the opening tip -- and hasn't stopped knocking the Spartans on their heels. Wayne Ellington has all but melted Walton's Big 10 defensive player of the year award. Ellington has 17 first-half points, hasn't missed a 3-pointer and has canned 7 of 9 from the floor.

The early party atmosphere here at Ford Field instead has turned into a wake, save the small sliver of this pie belonging to the cruising Heels' fans.

Meantime, Michigan State faithful have resorted to cheering when their Spartans briefly got the deficit under 20 points.