- Associated Press - Saturday, November 12, 2011

CORONADO, CALIF. (AP) - It was hard to beat the Carrier Classic, even for the team that got beat.

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 Obama away.

“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.

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