Is Sunday the night for the Heels to watch '76?
ST. LOUIS -- Sean May has the DVD ready. Teammate Wes Miller has the computer. Now all May needs is to gather the fellas around the screen Sunday night to watch his father, Scott May, win the 1976 national title at Indiana, completing the last undefeated season in Division I.
May wants the Tar Heels to heed a lesson from those Hoosiers of 29 years ago.
"It's not that I want them to see the way they played but more the celebration they had at the end,'' May said. "They had five NBA draft picks and they were the best team. They didn't care who got the credit.''
May continued, saying, "they embraced each other and came together for one cause and put all the selfishness behind."
But if May is inclined, he can also point out the way the Hoosiers played. They played their game, just like the Tar Heels decided to play their style in the second half of Saturday night's 87-71 victory over Michigan State in the national semifinal.
The Tar Heels ran their break effectively. They also were the aggressor at both ends of the court, taking over the paint at one end and frustrating the Spartans inside at the other.
"In the first half, we were hesitant and they were more aggressive and we weren't boxing out," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said of the Spartans' 38-33 halftime lead. "We weren't taking charges. There were two times where our guys turned sideways instead of taking the charge and Michigan State had guys diving on the floor [for loose balls]."
So, Williams lit into his team at halftime.
"They keep saying they want to play games like this [Final Four], so you've got to show it and we were embarrassed," Williams said. "We did a marvelous job of competing and attacking [after halftime]."
There were two major differences for Carolina in the second half: senior Jawad Williams and Sean May combined to cause fits for the Spartans offensively and the Tar Heels' much-maligned defense ultimately shut down the Spartans' interior.
Williams the player had scored only 18 points in the first four NCAA Tournament games. He scored 20 points Saturday night (12 in the first half), helped greatly, May said, by an ailing hip that was feeling better.
May finished with 22 points, 18 of those in the second half.
"They didn't know who to double and when to double and that might have messed them up a bit," Jawad Williams said of Michigan State's defense.
The Spartans were an offensive mess in the second half as Alan Anderson put up a goose egg. He was hurting (knee injury missing two days of practice) and struggled through an 0-for-4. Paul Davis, who battled throughout the course of the game, couldn't do enough by himself.
The Tar Heels talked about their aggressive play defensively, but Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said it had just as much to do with the Spartans' offense -- one that usually funnels through Anderson.
Wisconsin was able to hang with Carolina because of the matchup problem that Alando Tucker created at forward. Anderson was supposed to do the same thing but couldn't, apparently because he was injured.
"We just couldn't get much penetration," Izzo said. "Jawad went off. Anderson got open but he wasn't scoring and that was disappointing. We thought we had a mismatch but we couldn't play him much in the second half and that changed us."
Izzo said if Jawad Williams plays the way he did against Michigan State on Monday night versus Illinois, the Tar Heels will be a tougher out.
"That changes things," Izzo said. "He hasn't played well in this tournament but now that's a new weapon for them. We were more worried about their point guard and now all of a sudden he's hitting shots and we couldn't corral him."
Jawad Williams has an understanding of college basketball history. He's a student of the game just like May. No one would be surprised if Williams was next to May Sunday night watching May's dad play for the Hoosiers.
"We've got a chance to do something special that a lot of North Carolina teams haven't been able to do," May said. "We match up well with Illinois and if we attack them inside, then we've got a chance."
Yes they do, a chance to do something special, to win a title just like his dad did, 29 years ago.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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