"(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 different first half runs of 9-0 or greater. A Wendell Lewis jumper brought the Maroon and White within 18-6 midway through the first half. The Tar Heels forced four turnovers during an 11-0 run.
After a dunk by 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 game's opening half.
"We didn't get short shots to fall," Hollander 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 did battle hard in the second half. MSU closed within 26 on a couple of occasions thanks to some strong offensive play by Roquez Johnson and Gavin Ware.
North Carolina answered with an 8-0 run to open a 59-25 advantage with 14:37 left in regulation.
For the contest, MSU hit 17 of 61 shots from the field (27.9 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 79 shots from the field (46.8 percent), 15 of 33 shots from 3-point range (45.5 percent) and 6 of 9 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).
North Carolina held a 48-37 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had six assists and 22 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. Others in double figures included P.J. Hairston with 18 points, Reggie Bullock with 16 points, James Michael McAdoo with 10 points and Dexter Strickland with 10 points.
MSU will face Marquette at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in a second-round matchup. That contest will be televised nationally by ESPN2.