Carolina's Ndiaye says Utah's Johnsen used racial slur Utes freshman denies it, says center spit in his face

March 30, 1998|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

SAN ANTONIO -- For a player who had so little impact in his team's 65-59 defeat to Utah in Saturday's NCAA semifinals, North Carolina center Makhtar Ndiaye found himself in the middle of a significant controversy yesterday.

And, much like his performance in the game, Ndiaye was nowhere to be found here, having flown back to Chapel Hill, N.C., with the Tar Heels.

After the game, Ndiaye told a San Antonio newspaper that Utah's Britton Johnsen directed a racial slur at him and denied Johnsen's charge that he spit in the freshman forward's face. Johnsen yesterday said that Ndiaye slapped him once, and spit at him, but that he never used such a word in his life.

"Why don't you ask him about what he said to me?" said Ndiaye, who also blamed the officials after he scored no points, had only two rebounds and fouled out having played a total of 14 minutes. "He has no right to use the N-word at me. He used it more than once and I'm not sure that's the first time he's done it."

Johnsen, who was made available to the media here yesterday by Utah coach Rick Majerus, said he and Ndiaye exchanged some expletives after he came into the game and began playing physically.

"I was throwing my body around and Ndiaye slapped me in the face," recalled Johnsen. "He told me he was going to kick my [expletive] butt. I said to him, 'Look I'm 100 pounds lighter than you and I'm kicking your butt.' I never called him the N-word. I've never called anybody that. Something like this shouldn't be happening to block our success and happiness. This shouldn't be an issue."

Pub Date: 3/30/98

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