CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Mike Krzyzewski thought this was more than just one of the best games in the storied rivalry between Duke and North Carolina.
“I think you do it an injustice to say it was a great Duke-Carolina game,” he said of the top-ranked Blue Devils’ 83-81 overtime victory over No. 17 North Carolina on Thursday night. “It was a great game. You can’t match the intensity level.”
There was a buzz in the Smith Center minutes after the game ended. It was the noise a crowd makes when it’s disappointed, yet still energized.
“You’re told it’s a rivalry and everything, but when you’re on the court, the emotion of everybody — your teammates and the Carolina players — it’s like you’re giving it everything,” Duke freshman Luol Deng said. “It was just a fight from both teams and Chris (Duhon) made an unbelievable play to win it for us.”
Duhon’s reverse layup with 6.5 seconds left in overtime gave Duke its 16th straight victory overall and fifth in the last six years on North Carolina’s home court.
This one was over first-year Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, and the former assistant to Dean Smith left the court as did predecessors Bill Guthridge and Matt Doherty, losers at home to Duke.
“That was a big-time college basketball game and it’s tough saying that when you’re on the short end,” Williams said. “If I could coach to the enthusiasm we had in the building, I’d be one hell of a coach.”
Shelden Williams had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Duke (19-1, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). He had two of his five blocks in overtime and also came up with a big defensive play in the final minute to force a turnover by the Tar Heels (13-6, 3-5).
“I told Shelden after the game, ‘Your post defense was best when most people will have played their worst — the end of the game,”’ Krzyzewski said.
Daniel Ewing scored 19 points for Duke, while Deng had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and J.J. Redick added 14 points.
Rashad McCants scored 27 points for North Carolina, including the 3-pointer with 13 seconds left that tied the game at 81. Sean May had 15 points and 21 rebounds for the Tar Heels, but was 7-for-18 from the field and missed a number of close-in shots.
“I told the team we all could point to one or two plays that you could have made that you didn’t make that would have made a difference,” Roy Williams said. “We had a lot of opportunities early from 2 or 3 feet, and we just didn’t make the baskets.”
The sellout crowd of 21,750, most wearing “Turn It Blue” T-shirts, was loud all night — but it was roaring and shaking the floor when McCants’ fast-break dunk with 5:45 to go gave North Carolina a 69-62 lead.
Duke then turned up the defense and went on a 10-0 run, taking a 72-69 lead on two free throws by Deng with 1:06 left.
“That was the pivotal point of the game because a lot of teams would have been run out of here,” Krzyzewski said. “All of a sudden we had the lead, which I think was shocking. That showed our team played major, major manly minutes.”
May scored on a rebound with 53 seconds to go, and Redick restored the three-point lead on a drive with 38 seconds left.
North Carolina called a timeout, and Jawad Williams hit his only 3-pointer of the game with 18 seconds to go to tie it. Ewing missed a 3 with 3 seconds left for Duke.
Shelden Williams was a force inside in the overtime. His defense forced North Carolina into a 35-second shot clock violation with 22 seconds left. Redick then made two free throws to make it 81-78 and McCants, who finished 2-for-4 from 3-point range, drilled the 3 that tied it and set the stage for Duhon’s heroics.
“Those two shots they hit, come on,” Krzyzewski said. “Those aren’t shots kids are supposed to hit. Men do. They’re the best team we have played.”
Duhon said it helped the team’s confidence that Krzyzewski didn’t call a timeout after either of the tying 3-pointers.
“He told us he wanted us to win the game,” said Duhon, who did. “I just kept going and it opened up and I was able to make the layup. I don’t think anybody on either team could’ve handled (another overtime). I tried to do both of us a favor.”
Melvin Scott missed a 3 at the buzzer for North Carolina, and it was appropriate that Shelden Williams grabbed the game’s final rebound.
The win evened Krzyzewski’s record against North Carolina at 28-28, and he is 8-5 against the Tar Heels when his team is ranked No. 1.
Krzyzewski wouldn’t get caught up in his first Duke-Carolina game with Williams on the other bench.
“This was a players’ game,” he said.
Duke is 5-0 on the road in the ACC this season. The other eight teams in the conference have a total of five road wins.
CBT: Turning the page on the Mike Rice scandal, Rutgers hired Louisville's Julie Hermann as athletic director on Wednesday. But, Hermann has a prior scandal of her own.
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