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Michigan starts hot, can’t keep up with No. 13 North Carolina

Michigan drops a touch loss on the road to the Tar Heels, falls apart after perfect shooting start.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

On a night where Michigan seemed like they couldn't miss a shot to start, a crucial missed layup turned the momentum at Chapel Hill into something the Wolverines couldn't overcome.

After starting 8-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-4 from 3-point range, the Wolverines allowed a 22-8 run to end the first half, resulting in a large deficit they couldn't respond to, losing to North Carolina 86-71 on Wednesday night at the Dean Smith Center.

Michigan’s worst loss of the season dropped them to 6-2 on the season.

How it happened

The game started off with both teams catching fire and trading blows, as seven total 3-pointers between the Tar Heels and Wolverines added up to an 18-17 UNC lead with 14:43 left in the first half.

UNC would then go on a 7-0 run to gain a little ground on the Wolverines, going ahead 25-20 with 11:20 left in the opening half.

Wagner would continue to keep Michigan in the game, spinning and using his pivot foot inside to find baskets and tie the game, but Joel Berry’s triple with a hand in his face gave UNC back the lead at 32-29 with 7:46 left in the half.

Then Duncan Robinson missed a layup that resulted in two for UNC on the other end, getting the crowd into the game and giving the Tar Heels a 41-32 with just under five minutes to play until halftime.

UNC would grow that lead to 14 points, taking a 51-37 lead into the locker room after shooting 65 percent from the field (20-of-31) and 55 percent (6-of-11) from deep.

Against Michigan State on Sunday, UNC had 45 points the entire game. They outscored Michigan 22-8 to end the half.

Michigan shot the ball very well themselves, 52 percent from the field (15-for-29) and 47 percent (7-for-15) from beyond the arc, but failed to play sound defense and allowed 12 second-chance points to the Tar Heels.

UNC didn't take its foot off the pedal.

They went on an 8-0 run to open the second half, extending its lead to 65-39 with 14:40 to play in the second half.

UNC was on a 17-2 run to open the second half, and while Michigan made the final score more respectable, they controlled the game since they led just 34-32 late in the first half.

Wagner led Michigan with 20 points and nine rebounds, while transfer guard Charles Matthews added 12 points with three assists.

Luke Maye had 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting to lead the Tar Heels while adding six boards. Berry had 17 points while recording five boards and four assists.

After the hot start, Michigan ended shooting 42 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc. They were out-rebounded by UNC 37-31, while the Wolverines shot just 5-for-11 from the charity stripe.

Michigan will return to Ann Arbor for its next game against Indiana at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Crisler Center.

Game notes

  • This was Michigan’s worse non-conference loss since last season against UCLA on Dec. 10, 2016 when they lost to the Bruins 102-84.
  • Freshman Eli Brooks played the most minutes of any Wolverine point guard again with 18 minutes, totaling four points, three rebounds and two assists.
  • Michigan’s bench had 30 points in this game compared to the Tar Heels 14 bench points.
  • 55 percent is the highest Michigan has allowed an opponent to shoot from the field this season.