It’s a rivalry that some say is the best all time, and they may be right. Since 1920, the University of North Carolina and Duke University has met 241. This is two games per regular season. The two campuses is around 10 miles apart on “Tobacco Road.”
UNC has been the dominated team, having a 133-108 lead in the series. Both teams still very much in every game, despite the records. Duke now holds a 4-game winning streak and since 2009, has won 11 of 14. The last 89 meetings, the has been only a 15 point difference in the cumulative scores. Last night, the met in the Dean Smith Center(1986) for part one of the series.
To say UNC had the advantage going into the match-up would be an understatement. They were the #1 team overall in the opening week of the season. The have a healthy and experienced roster. Many thought they would be undefeated in the ACC entering the game but, back-to-back losses to Louisville and Notre Dame messed that prediction up. But, they were still on top of the ACC. One thought that may have entered Duke fans minds is the fact that UNC only beat Boston College by 3. The game was shaking from the beginning and also seen Roy Williams miss over half of it due to a vertigo spell. Boston College hasn’t won an ACC game this season.
Duke’s season hasn’t went as well as UNC’s. They lost senior Amile Jefferson in December which made their short bench even shorter. They lost 3 in a row in ACC play which knocked them out of the Top 25. But, after two wins over ranked Louisville and Virginia they reentered the Top 25 at number 20 this week.
So the tables are set. We have both teams resumes for this season.
UNC won the opening tip and from there, it was the Brice Johnson show. Johnson had a double-double before the end of the first half. He finished with 29 points and 19 rebounds. UNC lead the game for the majority of the game. Most of the game it was a 4 point lead. The largest lead of the game was UNC by 8.
For Duke, Brandon Ingram missed 11 of his first 14 shots. With Duke having a short bench, the team couldn’t afford foul trouble or injury. Well, Matt Jones sprained his ankle in the first half and didn’t return. That left only one person on the bench. That player was Chase Jeter who had gets a couple minutes a game. No one had foul trouble in the first half for Duke. At one point, there were 4 freshman and one sophomore for the Blue Devils. This meant Marshall Plumlee was on the bench. Plumlee had 4 fouls around the 14 minute mark in the second half. He played the final 10 minutes without getting foul number 5. Plumlee finished with 11 points on 5 for 5 from the field and 7 rebounds. Kennard took Jones spot in the rotation. Kennard was scoreless in the one point victory over UVA on Saturday. He finished the game with 15 points. With 2:39, Kennard hit a go ahead 3-pointer. It brought the score to 72-71. Grayson Allen soon followed with two made free throws with 1:09 left. Allen previously had 3 shots blocked half way through the second half. His free throws had Duke still in the lead. Allen has proved to be the go to guy when the game is on the line.
UNC had lead from 9:43 in the first half until Kennard’s 3 gave Duke a lead with under 3 minutes left. Johnson who had an amazing first half only attempted 2 shots in the last 13 minutes. As a team, the Tar Heels didn’t score the last two minutes of the game. But, they did have the ball with 24 seconds left in the game. They had 3 timeouts to use to set up a “game winning” shot. Head Coach Roy Williams didn’t use any of them but instead trusted his veteran team. Joel Berry II attempted the game winning shot but was blocked by freshman Derryck Thornton. Allen collected the ball and the clock ran out.
The final score, Duke 74, UNC 73.
Duke held UNC to 34% shooting and 27 points after half-time. UNC out rebounded Duke 46-34, 18 of which was offensive and it lead to 25 second chance points.
Duke winning yesterday makes it 4 in a row against UNC. Also, it is their 3rd straight win against Top-10teams. This is the first time since the 1991-1992. Duke now lead all Division 1 with 10 road wins over Top 5 teams in 20 seasons.
Duke’s Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game, “We hung in there. We just hung in there.”
On the other side, UNC Coach Roy Williams said, “It’s a wonderful rivalry to be involved in but, I’m tired of just (being) involved. We’ve got the play better.”
Duke will faces #18 Louisville on Saturday while UNC will face #11 Miami. The rematch for Duke and UNC will be March 5th at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, NC.