Every American citizen can make a solemn pledge today that they will find some opportunity to provide support to our troops, to those who are still active duty, to our National Guard, to our reservists, and to our veterans, President Barack Obama said in his address before No. 1 North Carolina and Michigan State tipped off. It's especially appropriate that we do it here.
Here meant the four-acre, 95,000-ton Navy warship, the USS Carl Vinson, which was the site of the first-ever Carrier Classic basketball game that saw the two college powerhouses go at it. The game seemed fitting on a Veterans Day that also gave Obama a chance to honor troops and pay tribute on the ship that buried internationally wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden's body at sea.
Amid a crowd of about 7,000 people, a breezy November dusk, and the city of San Diego painting the sky, both teams wore camouflage versions of their regular uniforms to honor those in the military. Each team's staff also wore cargo pants tucked into boots.
The teams did not disappoint the crowd, which had plenty of star power of its own, including celebrities Pamela Anderson and Brooklyn Decker, as well as Michigan State and North Carolina alums Magic Johnson and James Worthy, respectively.
In the beginning, the Spartans controlled the tempo of the game and stopped the Tar Heels from getting out in transition to score. However, North Carolina persevered and erased a seven-point first-half deficit by going to its highly regarded transition offense, which got them rolling. The Tar Heels capitalized on missed Spartans shots and forced turnovers to get out on the break, where the Spartans were too undersized to gain back ground.
Closing out the half with a 22-6 run, North Carolina led 36-25 at its end and led by double digits for the rest of the game, which resulted in a UNC win, 67-55.
To Michigan State's credit, it beat up North Carolina on the boards early and never faltered in this area, outrebounding UNC, 38-29. However, UNC shot considerably better from the floor -- 46 percent compared to just 31 percent for MSU. The Tar Heels' star guard Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 17 points, while teammate John Henson made six of 10 field-goal attempts. Draymond Green led the Spartans with 13 points.
Obama's stop in San Diego was the first leg of a nine-day diplomacy mission. Next, he will be in Hawaii, where the United States is hosting an economic summit for the Asia-Pacific region. Then, he will travel to Australia and Indonesia. He is aiming to use the trip to create bonds and boost U.S. business in the region before arriving back in Washington on Nov. 20.
View the slideshow to see photos before and during the game.