Heels fall apart without Berry in Duke win

If you’re a North Carolina fan, about the only good news after the Tar Heels blew a 13-point lead to fall to Duke 93-83 in the ACC Tournament is that Carolina is going into the NCAA Tournament angry. Carolina was wearing out the Blue Devils by getting the back down low, outscoring Duke 32-10 in the paint in the first half, getting out to a 46-33 lead before settling for a 49-42 halftime advantage. But, ahead 56-48 in the second half, UNC lost its point guard leader, Joel Berry, who went to the bench with fourth foul at the 15:04 […]

If you’re a North Carolina fan, about the only good news after the Tar Heels blew a 13-point lead to fall to Duke 93-83 in the ACC Tournament is that Carolina is going into the NCAA Tournament angry.

Carolina was wearing out the Blue Devils by getting the back down low, outscoring Duke 32-10 in the paint in the first half, getting out to a 46-33 lead before settling for a 49-42 halftime advantage.

But, ahead 56-48 in the second half, UNC lost its point guard leader, Joel Berry, who went to the bench with fourth foul at the 15:04 mark.

Over the next minute it appeared the Tar Heels might withstand the loss as they scored five straight to go up by 13 again at 61-48 but then Duke went on a huge run that pretty much lasted the rest of the game.

Duke, using the three-point shot, outscored the Tar Heels 29-9 the rest of the time that Berry sat on the bench. A four-point play started the run when Duke’s Luke Kennard hit one from the corner and was fouled by Nate Britt with jut under 13 minutes to play.

The Devils went on to hit three more threes during the run, including one from Frank Jackson who gave Duke’s their first lead of the game at 66-65 with 8:58 to play.

Duke’s pressure defense seemed to rattled the Heels without Berry in the game. Carolina managed to tie it at 70 with 6:29 left on an old-fashioned three-point play by Nate Britt. But after a Frank Jackson bank shot put the Devils ahead, Carolina never led again.

Berry didn’t get back into the game until Duke had built a seven-point lead with less than five minutes to go. Carolina never got close than five again as Berry couldn’t provide a lift after sitting for 10 minutes of game time.

Besides Duke having 10 threes, including five from Grayson Allen, compared to just four threes for Carolina, the biggest difference came at the free throw line. The Devils hit 33 of 36 free throws. That’s 19 more points that Duke got at line.

Jayson Tatum led the Duke attack with 24 points while Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks, Carolina big men, led Carolina with 29 points each.

Once the Tar Heels stopped feasting on Duke inside, they needed some outside shooting and they didn’t get it. Justin Jackson was just six of 22 from the field, including just three of 11 from the three-point line.

Carolina falls to 27-7 overall while Duke improves to 26-8 and advances to the ACC Tournament championship game.

For a box score, video highlights and more commentary on the game, please click here.