The Spartans of MSU rallied in the second half scoring 30 points on a stubborn Tar Heels defense. Nonetheless, Michigan State’s surge was too little too late as UNC eventually hoisted the 85-pound Carrier Classic trophy, beating MSU by 12 points (67-55) in this rematch of the 2009 NCAA national championship game.
As expected, UNC All-American Harrison Barnes led the number 1 ranked Tar Heels in scoring, sinking 17 points on Michigan State freshman Branden Dawson.
Michigan State was led in scoring and rebounding by senior power forward Draymond Green. Green scored 13 points and grabbed a game high 18 rebounds in the Spartans losing effort.
While the Spartans held the lead during most of the first half due to stingy defense and a rebounding exhibition even Wilt Chamberlin would envy, the Tar Heels went to the locker room at halftime up 11 points (36-25).
In the second half, the substitution of stadium lights, in place of the bright San Diego natural sunlight, seemed to assist MSU in climbing out of their first half scoring inaptitude. Yet, at this same time Harrison Barnes seemed to have read some of the press clippings praising his athletic ability as he started the second half on fire, barely touching rim as his made jump shots silenced any thoughts of a second half MSU comeback.
UNC power forward John Henson is partially to blame for MSU’s inability to make a comeback in the second half due to his career high of 9 blocks. At a lanky 6 feet 11 inches tall, Henson has some of the longest arms in the NCAA.
With 10:42 remaining in the game, things seemed to get out of hand for MSU as the Tar Heels went up 19 points, their biggest lead of the game.
Perhaps playing in front of the President of the United States made MSU players nervous. Maybe playing outdoors on a 1,092-foot-long air craft carrier gave players butterflies. Or, better yet, maybe the three future first-round NBA players on UNC’s starting roster proved to be to much firepower for MSU to handle.
Whatever the case, the 2011 Quicken Loans Carrier Classic was definitely a Veterans Day celebration to remember!
Neither my copy writer coworker (Eric Mally) nor I came within 10 points of our final score predictions:
Eric’s prediction UNC 88 (+21), MSU 65 (+10)
Jon’s prediction UNC 81 (+14), MSU 70 (+15)
However, with reports that state the UConn Huskies will take on the Arizona Wildcats in the 2012 Carrier Classic, we have a full calendar year to study (watch college basketball) and come up with more accurate predictions next year!