Cold Carolina collapses against hot Duke

A cold-shooting North Carolina team collapsed as Duke drained eight threes in the second half for a come-from-behind 74-64 victory over the Heels. The loss was costly as it dropped the Tar Heels from a second seed to the sixth seed in next week’s ACC Tournament. Carolina will also probably face Syracuse, who would have to get by Wake Forest, to get a home crowd advantage at the ACC Tourney, held this year in New York. The loss also likely dropped the Heels from a chance for a No. 2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Things looked good for […]

A cold-shooting North Carolina team collapsed as Duke drained eight threes in the second half for a come-from-behind 74-64 victory over the Heels. The loss was costly as it dropped the Tar Heels from a second seed to the sixth seed in next week’s ACC Tournament.

Carolina will also probably face Syracuse, who would have to get by Wake Forest, to get a home crowd advantage at the ACC Tourney, held this year in New York. The loss also likely dropped the Heels from a chance for a No. 2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Things looked good for the Tar Heels at the half as they managed to take a 10-point lead into the locker. A 14-4 run at the end of the half, which started with a Luke Maye three and ended with a Kenny Williams three, gave the Heels a 35-25 cushion in Durham on Grayson Allen’s senior night.

In the second half, Carolina upped its margin to 13 on a Cam Johnson long three from the left wing with just under 17 minutes to play.

After that, Tar Heel fans would have been well served to watch something else on TV.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley took over the game for a few minutes to erase the Carolina lead. Bagley scored 10 points over the next five minutes as he aggressively went to the basket and even drained a three from the top of the key.

Gary Trent completed a 23-8 Duke run with a three pointer that put the Blue Devils up 52-50 midway through the second half.

Yet another three (Carolina shot an exhorbitant 31 of them), this one by Williams put the Heels back up 58-57 with 7:25 to go. But it turned out to be Carolina’s last lead of the game.

Allen, who scored 15 points in his senior game, hit a three from the left corner to put Duke up 60-58. Trent hit another three and Wendell Carter hit one and Duke was in control at 70-62 with 3:33 left.

The Devils hit eight of their last 11 three-point attempts. In fact eight of their last 15 baskets were from beyond the arc. Meanwhile Carolina was cold from three-point land. Carolina’s catalyst, Joel Berry, missed all seven of his attempts and the Heels finished just eight of 31.

“We played timid in the second half and I think that’s why the ball didn’t go in like we want it to,” UNC’s Kenny Williams said.

UNC coach Roy Williams seemed to agree but said it differently. “In the second half Duke was much more aggressive than we were,” he said. He added that after back-to-back threes, including one from Bagley, “things started snowballing on us.”

Bagley threw most of the snowballs as he led Duke with 21 points after getting only three in the first half. “Marvin went nuts for a while and put us on his back,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

While Coach Williams would have liked fewer three-point attempts from the Tar Heels, they were missing mid-range open shots as well. “You’ve got to make plays, gotta make shots on big-game days,” he said.

The Tar Heels, now 22-9 overall and 11-7 in the ACC, tied for third in the league but lost tiebreakers with Miami, Clemson and NC State to fall to the sixth seed. Duke goes into the ACC Tourney with a 25-6 record and a No. 2 seed.

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