Obama watches No. 1 Tar Heels beat Spartans 67-55
It was hard to beat the Carrier Classic, even for the team that
With President Barack Obama watching from courtside, No. 1 North
Carolina beat Michigan State 67-55 on Friday night on the flight
deck of the USS Carl Vinson.
Harrison Barnes scored 17 points and John Henson had 12 points
and a career-high nine blocked shots as the Tar Heels put their
size advantage to good use. Michigan State’s Draymond Green had a
career-high 18 rebounds.
There was no dejection in the Michigan State locker room after
the game, which was conceived by Spartans athletic director Mark
Hollis as a way to honor veterans.
”It’s a loss but at the end of the day it’s a win because of
what we did,” Green said
Obama watched intently, chatted with wife Michelle and service
members seated near him, and at one point appeared to check his
BlackBerry. When the game ended, he applauded and then shook hands
with coaches Roy Williams and Tom Izzo.
”He said, `Good luck.’ I told him, `Good luck.’ He’s got some
pretty important things coming up in the next year, also,” said
Williams, the Tar Heels’ coach.
Williams said it was nice that there wasn’t a crisis that kept
”I like a president who loves sports, loves athletics, loves
college basketball,” Williams said. ”Don’t take this wrong and
I’m not being disrespectful, but he’s a basketball junkie.”
Said Izzo: ”I thanked him. He thanked us. We’re all trying to
thank somebody. That damn military starts thanking you, and it’s
killing me because they do so much for us and they’re thanking us.
They’re the most humble group I’ve ever met.
”We played the No. 1 team in the country and in front of the
No. 1 team in the world,” the Michigan State coach added.
Both coaches said the Carrier Classic worked.
”I absolutely loved it,” Williams said. ”We had some scary
moments. We were worried about the weather for the last week, but
it worked and I thought it was great.”
Izzo said he ”absolutely loved it. The military was so good on
this whole deal, from when we got here to when we’re leaving. I
thought it was awesome.”
The Carl Vinson conducted Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea after
he was killed by Navy SEALs in a raid ordered by Obama.
Fitting with the Veterans Day theme, the Tar Heels and Spartans
had U.S.A. rather than their names on the back of their jerseys,
which had a camouflage design. At dusk, the game was paused for the
lowering of the American flag. When the game ended, the players
gave their jerseys to servicemen.
In a nod to the troops, Williams and his staff wore combat boots
and cargo pants.
The Carrier Classic featured slam dunks and fast breaks on a
court plopped down where jet fighters normally scream into
”It took a while, but at some point you didn’t even realize you
were outside until the play slowed down,” Henson said. ”It was
fun. My excuse was sometimes I felt like the boat moved a little
bit when I shot,” Henson joked. ”That’s why I missed.”
North Carolina led by double digits from late in the first half
on, including 36-25 after Kendall Marshall made two free throws
with 44.8 seconds left before halftime.
This game turned out as have recent matchups between the
schools. North Carolina has beaten Michigan State six straight
times, including in the 2009 national championship game.
The Tar Heels’ biggest lead was 59-38 with 10:42 left before
Michigan State closed within 10 points with 5:43 left.
Dexter Strickland had 10 points for North Carolina.
Green scored 13 points and had an unbelievable game on the
boards, including 11 defensive rebounds. Michigan State
outrebounded the Tar Heels 49-34 but made only 2 of 20
Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne scored 10 points each for the
Green said it was great getting to play in front of the
”That was phenomenal,” he said. ”It’s not every day anyone
gets to do that.”