It’s Rivalry Week, easier to write than it is to say. Last night Duke and North Carolina added another chapter to theirs with another great game. As if the rivalry wasn’t enough, first place in the ACC was also on the line. Florida State, who has already beaten both teams had lost earlier at Boston College. A Tar Heel win would give them the lead outright at 8-1. The Blue Devils winning would create a three way tie at 7-2.
Duke brought a greater since of urgency at the start of the game, leading by as many as eight. North Carolina played like the better team, and I still think they are, overcoming Duke’s fast start to lead 43-40 at the half. They just had issues starting and finishing, which will ultimately get you beat. They started the second half the same way they ended the first and led by as many as thirteen. Then the wheels came off. With 2:38 remaining, it was still a ten point game.
Duke went on a 13-2 run to close out the game and stole an 85-84 win from the shocked Dean Dome crowd. It was a team collapse for North Carolina, but Tyler Zeller had a tale of two halves. As good as he was in the first half, scoring 19 of his 23 points, the second half wasn’t as kind. He had two crucial missed free throws, accidentally tipped the ball in the basket for Duke while attempting to grab a rebound, and found himself on guarding Austin Rives on a switch only to have Rivers drain the game winning, cold blooded three on him as time expired.
It was definitely a tough one for the Heels to swallow. They shot better from the field, out rebounded Duke 41-31, and had one less turnover as well to add insult to injury. Duke used the three ball to offset all of that. They made 14 three’s to Carolina’s 1. That kept them in the game. Rivers and Seth Curry combined to hit 10 of them. Round 1 goes to the Blue Devils, the ball is in UNC’s court now as they’ll have to go to Cameron Indoor Stadium later this season hoping to avoid being swept.
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