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Mitchell Northam | | February 21, 2019

UNC-Duke score: Tar Heels roll over top-ranked Blue Devils; Zion Williamson lost to injury

Andy Katz reveals his bracket

Duke star Zion Williamson left the game less than a minute after tip-off, and the North Carolina Tar Heels proceeded to author the latest chapter in the Tobacco Road rivalry.

The Zion-less No. 1 Blue Devils fell 88-72 to the No. 8 Tar Heels at a sold out Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday night, in front of a crowd that included former President Barack Obama, director Spike Lee, Hall of Fame baseball player Ken Griffey Jr. and recently retired NFL star Julius Peppers.

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North Carolina (21-5; 11-2 ACC) pounded the painted area, outscoring Duke (23-3; 11-2 ACC) 62-28 there. Senior big man Luke Made led the way with 30 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Tar Heels. Cam Johnson added 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

It was the first time since March 4, 2006 that North Carolina had beaten a No. 1 ranked Duke team. Mr. Obama was a U.S. senator then and Mr. Griffey was still playing Major League Baseball.

With the win, Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams now has the most wins by any Division I men's coach over teams ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll with eight. Former Maryland head coach Gary Williams is second on that list, with seven wins of that nature.

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RJ Barrett led the way for Duke with 33 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Williamson left the game at the 19:26 mark after slipping and pushing his foot through the bottom of his shoe. Duke said he had an undisclosed knee injury and he did not return to the game.

While many people tuned in, the game was far from pretty. Duke and North Carolina combined for 36 turnovers and shot 10-of-59 percent from three-point range, good enough for just 16.9 percent.

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The result means there is now a three-way tie at the top of the ACC with North Carolina, Duke and Virginia all posting 11-2 conference records. There is 17 days left in regular season ACC play and the Blue Devils and Tar Heels will meet again on March 9 in Chapel Hill.

UNC leads the all-time series against Duke, 138-111, and is 37-45 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

We live-blogged the game here, grabbing all the reactions, Tweets, GIFs and highlights.



Joe Boozell tried to predict who would win. Here's three factors he considered:

Luke Maye will likely have to guard Zion Williamson

Maye has plenty of strengths, but he's going to have an incredibly tough time staying in front of Williamson if left on an island.

Of course, most teams don't have anyone equipped to guard Williamson. And if North Carolina executes its game plan effectively, Maye won't be left on an island. But that's part of what makes Williamson such a special player; he commands double, and sometimes triple-teams whenever he touches the ball. He often scores regardless.

That's why Tre Jones, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish get so many open looks from 3. And even if Maye isn't a great candidate to guard Williamson, he's probably the Tar Heels' best shot. Cam Johnson and Nassir Little would probably get bull rushed, even if they're both quicker than Maye. Maye isn't fleet of foot, but he's sturdy.

He won't be expected to handle Williamson alone, but it's worth watching to see how much resistance Maye can provide. The less help North Carolina has to send, the better. But that might be wishful thinking.

North Carolina should have an offensive rebounding edge over Duke

This is Duke's best defensive team in years, but it struggles with defensive rebounding. Opponents collect 29.7 percent of their misses against the Blue Devils, which means Duke ranks 243rd in defensive rebounding rate.

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There's an opportunity for North Carolina to do damage here. The Tar Heels aren't on par with the old Brice Johnson-Kennedy Meeks teams in terms of glass mashing, but UNC retrieves 35 percent of its own clanks, which ranks 20th in the land. Maye and Garrison Brooks are both solid offensive rebounders.

Marques Bolden has quietly had a nice year for Duke. He's a reliable rim protector, and his post game has improved. But he's not spry enough to keep athletes away from the offensive glass, and outside of Williamson (and Barrett, on occasion) Duke can struggle here. The Blue Devils came back to beat Louisville on Tuesday, but the Cardinals won the rebounding battle. It was part of the reason they built up an early lead.

Of course, if North Carolina is too eager in attacking the glass and fails to convert, Duke will be off to the races. That's a scary proposition. But it's one of the few areas in which UNC has a clear edge.

Duke's three best defenders match up well against North Carolina's three best offensive players

Williamson, Reddish and Jones are three of the best defenders in the country, and Maye, Johnson and Coby White are the Tar Heels' three most dangerous scorers. All average at least 14 points per game.

Maye is a mismatch for a lot of defenses; he's not a mismatch for Williamson. White has been on a tear lately; Jones might be the best point guard defender in America. Johnson is quietly having a ridiculous shooting season; he's making 48 percent of his 3s on high volume. Reddish may lose focus at times, but when locked in, there's not a better guy to guard a tall, rangy sniper like Johnson.

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One of Duke's defensive weaknesses is when Bolden has to guard on the perimeter, but UNC doesn't have a stretch five unless it uses Maye there. Brooks is a nice player, but he's not breaking people down off the dribble. It will be interesting to see if Roy Williams goes small and uses Nassir Little at the four, forcing Coach K to make a decision. Then again, Duke's lineups with Williamson at center have wrecked folks lately; just ask Louisville. Williams might want to think twice before baiting Krzyzewski into that.

Bottom line: Duke matches up ideally with North Carolina.

Duke vs. North Carolina history and notable moments


North Carolina has nights where it looks unstoppable, but it's hard to pick the Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor. Duke is the most talented team in the country, and you'd expect the Blue Devils to bring maximum effort in a rivalry game like this.

Score: Duke 88, North Carolina 80

How we're doing with these predictions

We're at 8-8 on the year. Yes, it's been a bit of a roller-coaster thus far.

North Carolina vs. Virginia

  • Our pick: North Carolina
  • Result: Loss

Duke vs. Virginia

  • Our pick: Virginia
  • Result: Loss

North Carolina vs. Louisville (Feb. 2)

  • Our pick: North Carolina
  • Result: Win

Kansas vs. Kentucky (Jan. 26)

  • Our pick: Kentucky
  • Result: Win

Michigan State vs. Iowa (Jan. 24)

  • Our pick: Michigan State
  • Result: Win

Kentucky vs. Auburn (Jan. 19)

  • Our pick: Auburn
  • Result: Loss

Virginia vs. Duke (Jan. 19)

  • Our pick: Virginia
  • Result: Loss

Virginia Tech vs. Virginia (Jan. 15)

  • Our pick: Virginia Tech
  • Result: Loss

Ohio State vs. Michigan State (Jan. 5)

  • Our pick: Michigan State
  • Result: Win

Virginia vs. Florida State (Jan. 5)

  • Our pick: Virginia
  • Result: Win

Kentucky vs. North Carolina (Dec. 22)

  • Our pick: North Carolina
  • Result: Loss

Gonzaga vs. North Carolina (Dec. 15)

  • Our pick: North Carolina
  • Result: Win

Kansas vs. Villanova (Dec. 15)

  • Our pick: Kansas
  • Result: Win

Gonzaga vs. Tennessee (Dec. 9)

  • Our pick: Gonzaga
  • Result: Loss

North Carolina vs. Michigan (Nov. 28)

  • Our pick: North Carolina
  • Result: Loss

Duke vs. Auburn (Nov. 20)

  • Our pick: Duke
  • Result: Win


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