EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -Michigan State fans watched in quiet resignation Monday night as their beloved Spartans fell to North Carolina in the NCAA national title game.
The Spartans were done in by a first half that sometimes found them down by more than 20 points to the Tar Heels. But even after they went into halftime behind 55-34, the sea of fans decked out in green and white who flooded bars and restaurants near campus wasn't ready to give up.
Those gathered at Tripper's sports bar in East Lansing still belted out the Spartan fight song with gusto as they watched the game, which was taking place in Detroit's Ford Field, just 90 miles from the sprawling Michigan State campus. They cheered as the song blared through the restaurant's sound system during halftime, shouting ``Fight! Fight! Fight, team fight!''
the Breslin Center, Michigan State's basketball arena.
When the game ended, many fans said they were still proud of the Spartans, a No. 2 seed that knocked off two No. 1 seeds - Louisville and the University of Connecticut - to get to the final game.
``I'm happy that they were able to stay with them (the Tar Heels) after that 10-minute slaughter'' in the first half, said recent Michigan State graduate Erich Haezebrouck of Delta Township, near Lansing. ``No. 2 out of 64 teams - that's pretty impressive, especially since they weren't supposed to make it that far.''
The Spartans' defeat made a difference in the city's mood. Although fans had partied in the streets after Saturday's win, East Lansing Police Lt. Kevin Daley said fans were subdued Monday night.
``The streets are barren. Everything is dead,'' he told The Associated Press.
Enthusiasm for a possible repeat of the Spartan's 2000 NCAA championship had run high in the East Lansing area before the game. Even Gov. Jennifer Granholm wore a green Michigan State sweat shirt under her dark business jacket Monday during a bill-signing at the Capitol in downtown Lansing, just three miles from the college campus.
and all they do is work, work, work. It's a great statement about them, certainly. But it's a great, uplifting moment for us.''
The Spartans were in the Final Four for the fifth time under Izzo and got the rare opportunity to play in the finals in its home state. Michigan, watching its storied auto industry implode and struggling with the nation's highest unemployment rate, welcomed the diversion.
``I think really, this is so much more for us about a psychological impact,'' Granholm said. ``I know that I speak for 10 million Michigan citizens in saying thank you to this team, thank you to coach Izzo, for really being Michigan's team and Michigan's `uplift' during this very, very tough time.''
About 230 police officers were posted around Michigan State's campus in East Lansing on Monday night.
About 2,000 people gathered Saturday night and early Sunday morning near Cedar Village to celebrate after Michigan State defeated Connecticut 82-73. Sixty people were arrested, but police say the celebration was peaceful.

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