In the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Championship Game, the No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers took on the No. 4 and college basketball heavyweight North Carolina Tar Heels, and ended the tournament with a loss, 71-56.
Similar to the Chicago State game, the Badgers got off to an atrocious start. The team started 0-11 from the field, and didn’t score for over six minutes to start the game.
Yes, you read that right.
Needless to say, it was not an ideal start for the underdog Wisconsin team. However, they only trailed 8-0 at this point due to tough defense, and some poor shooting from UNC.
Offensive sparkplug D’Mitrik Trice finally got the team on the board, and the Badgers’ offense struggled throughout the first half. Nigel Hayes had a nice slam, but there were not many other highlights for the Badgers.
UNC big Kennedy Meeks had a double-double in the first half, and that about summed up the first 20 minutes for the Tar Heels, dominating the game and leading 29-20.
The Badgers looked better to start the second half with improved play on both ends of the court, but that didn’t continue.
The Tar Heels completely dominated the Badgers in the second half. They went on a 9-0 run in 3:35 at one point, and Wisconsin didn’t make a field goal for almost seven minutes in another stretch.
The Badgers are a talented and experienced team, but you can’t win with numbers like that, especially against a great team like North Carolina, who also has returned a lot this season.
Wisconsin never led, and North Carolina dominated in nearly every category, especially points in the paint at 36-16.
Tar Heels stars Joel Berry II and Kennedy Meeks led the way with 22 points, and 16 points and 15 rebounds, respectively, while Vitto Brown (15 points) and Ethan Happ (13 points) paced the Badgers offensively.
Some consolation for Badger fans: it is still very early in the season, and North Carolina is one of the best teams in the country.
Wisconsin (4-2) returns home Sunday to host Prairie View A&M.