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UNC doing just fine, even with Harrison Barnes’ bum ankle

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Bum ankle or not, Harrison Barnes wasn’t about to let North Carolina lose another game on the road. Endure another Florida State setback with Duke looming? No way.

So Barnes shook off the ankle pain lingering from a sprain suffered earlier in the week, scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half and even played a little defense in as UNC rallied from a nine-point deficit for an 83-74 win Saturday vs. Maryland. The 6-7 sophomore didn’t have the greatest body language in the first half, but that changed when the Heels started to get serious.

“I didn’t tell him, but I said to myself if I saw him limping around again on the defensive end I was going to take him out,” Heels coach Roy Williams said. “Maybe he picked up on my vibe because he stopped limping.”

Not that Barnes was faking. He re-injured the ankle early in the second half. From the Raleigh News & Observer:

“It was a lot of pain,” Barnes said. “It was like somebody shot me in the ankle. I think that’s about how much pain there was. Because it was already hurt. Then you do the same thing again to it, it (was) a lot of pain.”

He spoke on a padded table outside the Tar Heels’ locker room, surrounded by reporters, going through postgame stretches with a trainer. He said he entered the game feeling about 60 percent healthy, but when asked if there was a chance he’d miss it, Barnes didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“Thought never crossed my mind,” he said. “I was always going to try to go out there and do as much as I could.”

Barnes didn’t do it alone. Tyler Zeller continued his All-America type season (22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) and John Henson notched a double-double, while Kendall Marshall had 16 assists.

Also notable? Reggie Bullock’s 11 points and five rebounds in 34 minutes. The 6-6 sophomore wing’s playing well as a new starter in the three games since Dexter Strickland’s torn ACL cost him the rest of the season. His scoring’s up and his defense has been better than expected, both in one-on-one situations and with the team overall.

In three games without Strickland, UNC’s scoring 1.12 points per possession and only giving up .951.In the five ACC games before that, the Heels managed 1.02 PPP and allowed .964. They’ve also played three of the ACC’s worst teams (Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Maryland), but it’s worth noting with a crucial game coming up.

Yes, it’s Duke-UNC week. Barnes better get to work on icing that ankle.

He’s the one player on the Heels’ roster who presents a serious matchup issue for Duke, because of his mix of size and quickness. If his ankle’s anywhere near 100 percent, it bodes well for UNC’s chances to stay atop the ACC. And if not, things could get interesting.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Jim Valvano’s title-winning N.C. State team to finally get White House visit

FILE - In this April 5, 1983, file photo, North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano embraces sophomore forward Lorenzo Charles moments after Charles had dunked a shot to give North Carolina State the win over Houston in the national championship game at the Final Four of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)
(AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)
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The N.C. State men’s basketball team never got invited to the White House after they won the 1983 National Title.

It wasn’t a tradition in those days. They spoke with President Ronald Reagan, but they did so from the confines of a television studio in Raleigh. It’s commonplace now to see title winners from all sports making their way to the Oval Office to shake hands with our nation’s leader, but back then, the funding and invitation weren’t always available.

And that never say right with the guys on that team. Since Lorenzo Charles, whose memorable dunk was the title-winning bucket, passed away in 2011, that team has had a reunion every spring, and the topic of going to the White House to celebrate the win always came up. That inspired Thurl Bailey, who was the No. 7 pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, and his friend, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, to write letters to President Obama requesting that the ’83 iteration of the Wolfpack get their White House visit.

“As definitive as a National Championship sounds, as an athlete there always seems to be unfinished business,” Bailey told N.C. State’s website. “You’re always looking for the next challenge, the next opportunity. This was it for me.  If I could get this done, it would be yet another story for me and the other members of that team to be able to pass along to our kids, grandkids and generations after that.”

Bailey’s efforts proved successful.

On Thursday, N.C. State announced that President Obama had not only received the letters, but he has issued a May 9th invitation for that 1983 team to visit him in Washington, D.C., meaning that Bailey, Dereck Whittenburg and the rest of that 1983 title-winning team will finally get to meet the Commander-in-Chief.

“The joy and the euphoria of winning a national title against all odds, as well as the pain and devastation of losing members of that family, are important parts of who I am,” Bailey said. “Contacting President Obama was one piece of our incredible journey that had eluded us for far too long.”

Los Angeles to host new college basketball doubleheader

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) A new men’s basketball doubleheader will be played in Los Angeles featuring Arizona, BYU, Gonzaga and Southern California.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced the one-day event, to be played at Staples Center on Dec. 3.

The Wildcats will play the Zags and the Cougars will face the Trojans.

Tickets will go on sale May 4. Game times and television broadcast information will be announced later.

Purdue-Arizona State and Florida-Duke in Jimmy V Classic

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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NEW YORK (AP) Purdue will face Arizona State and Florida will meet Duke in the 2016 Jimmy V Classic.

The 22nd annual doubleheader will be played Dec. 6 at Madison Square Garden.

The early season event will be part of the 10th annual Jimmy V Week to help raise funds for cancer research. ESPN’s 2015 Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research raised a record-setting $3.2 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research – one million more than the previous fundraising record of $2.2 million in 2014. In nine years, Jimmy V Week has raised $13.7 million for cancer research.

No. 6 Maryland beat Connecticut 76-66 and No. 10 Virginia beat No. 14 West Virginia 70-54 in last year’s doubleheader.

Video: Bobby Knight endorses Donald Trump

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The General put his weight behind The Donald on Wednesday night.

Bobby Knight, he of three national championships with Indiana and the reputation as one of the brashest coaches of all time, endorsed Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, at a rally in Indianapolis.

You folks are taking a look at the most prepared man in history to step in as President of the United States,” Knight said. “That man right there.”

The Hall of Famer Knight won 902 games in his career at West Point, Indiana and Texas Tech. He was famously ousted by the Hoosiers in 2000 after university president Myles Brand had instituted a “no-tolerance” policy on Knight after a string of controversies that defined the coach as much as his winning.

He retired after seven seasons with Texas Tech in 2008.

 

NCAA board of governors approves anti-discrimination process for event bids

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The NCAA board of governors adopted a new rule that all sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events that will require them to “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event,” it was announced Wednesday.

The decision “follows the recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse or provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the NCAA’s release reads.

The new criteria is expected to be fully implemented during the current bidding process, the NCAA said.

North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed laws that have rolled back protections of the LBGT community. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently threatened to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law does not change in North Carolina.

The NCAA had already barred sites that display the Confederate flag and from members hosting championship events that use “abusive and offensive” Native American imagery or nicknames.

“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds,” said Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and chair of the Board of Governors, said in a statement. “So it is important that we assure that community – including our student-athletes and fans – will always enjoy the experience of competing and watching at NCAA championships without concerns of discrimination.”

The NCAA “considers the promotion of inclusiveness in race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity as a vital element to protecting the well-being of student-athletes, promoting diversity in hiring practices and creating a culture of fairness.”