Despite killing top-ranked North Carolina on the boards, 42-31, the Tar Heels’ athleticism dominated Sparty on both ends of the floor on the way to a 67-55 win in front of a few thousand of our country’s servicemen and servicewomen, and President Obama and First Lady Michelle. UNC PF John Henson had 12 points, 7 rebounds, and a career-high 9 blocks. When he wasn’t blocking shots, he was altering those of any Spartan who attempted one in the paint. Preseason All-American SF Harrison Barnes had an easy 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. My favorite player in the country, Draymond Green paced Sparty as he scored 13 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and dished out 2 assists while playing 38 minutes. However, those 13 points on 6-19 shooting. F Brandon Dawson added 10 points, 7 rebounds, and swatted 2 shots. Reserve C Derrick Nix also added to the cause (or lack thereof) with 6 points and 9 rebounds in limited duty due to foul trouble. It’s amazing the Spartans lost by “only” 12 when they shot 31% (22-72) from the field and 10% (2-20) from 3 to UNC’s 47% (24-51) and 23 free throw attempts.
Tonight, Sparty will play sixth-ranked Duke in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. Duke’s coach Mike Krjakw*1k)@ will be seeking his 903rd career victory, which would make him the most winningest coach in NCAA men’s Division I basketball history. He tied his former coach and mentor, Bob Knight, for the top spot with a 96-55 win over Presbyterian on Saturday.
That’s right. Tom Izzo can also make some sort of obscure history tonight with his 379th win. Well, it would be his 384th, but I’d like to acknowledge his 379th here, anyway. Last time I checked, while his mentor was a great coach in his own right, Heathcoate was not Bob Knight, he of 902 wins. So that means that Izzo had to work harder than Coach K to become the elite coach that he is today, right?. Yes, I ask you. Something of this nature.
Sparty will be Duke’s toughest test of the early season, and I’m sure they will try to have a result that mirrors their second game, and not their first, a 77-76 win over mid-minor Belmont University in front of the Cameron Crazies. There is reason for Sparty fans to be optimistic, I suppose. Duke doesn’t have an inside defensive presence who is even remotely as talented as John Henson, and freshman PG Austin Rivers will be guarded very tightly by MSU’s perimeter defenders, something that was fairly effective in the Carrier Classic. Also, Valpo transfer SG Brandon Wood looked fairly decent before suffering a knee injury that seemed to slow him a bit the rest of the UNC tilt.
Whatever Sparty has to do to ensure that Coach K doesn’t get 903 against them on national television in the most craptasticiest basketball mecca ever, should be done. In grand fashion, preferably.