CORONADO, Calif. (AP) — The nation’s basketball-fan-in-chief appeared to enjoy the first college basketball game on an active aircraft carrier.
President Barack Obama sat courtside and watched No. 1 North Carolina beat Michigan State 67-55 on Friday night in the Carrier Classic 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 18 rebounds.
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.
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.
The Carrier Classic featured slam dunks and fast breaks on a court plopped down where jet fighters normally scream into flight.
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 3-pointers.
Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne scored 10 points each for the Spartans.
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