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Snatched Away! Duke 83 North Carolina 81 In OT

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Notes |

After a game like that, what can you say but: wow! Duke and UNC put on
another great game, with Duke winning 83-81 in overtime, and, it seems clear to
us that if the rivalry was ever diminished, it's back on in a big way now.
What an amazing game.

In many ways, roles seemed reversed: UNC, expected to suffer from a
thin bench, got more minutes out of their substitutes than Duke did, more
points, and outrebounded Duke 46-35 - and by 21-14 offensively. In
addition to all that, Duke, for a time, turned into a team satisfied to shoot
away from the perimeter - a fault which has haunted UNC this season.

In many ways, UNC played a remarkable game and had they won, Duke fans would
have to admit to losing to an opponent who brought everything they could to the
fight. And no one on UNC's side played a guttier game than Sean May.

We have poked fun at May and will again. But when you throw down 15
points and grab 21 boards, well, you just demand respect, and you get it: the
guy was great. He has struggled all year with his conditioning after coming back
from his foot injury, but he put on a tremendous performance. Chances are
it'll be a while before any ACC player gets 20 boards (much less against Duke).

Rashad McCants had a tremendous game as well, shooting 10-16 and grabbing 9
boards. He's gone a long way recently towards silencing his critics.

Raymond Felton is going to be a great player, but consider this: he missed 11
shots (out of 16 taken) and had four turnovers. Not a great night.

For Duke, maybe the best aspect of this game was that the Devils faced some
really serious adversity and came through it. There was a point in the
second half where UNC was clearly outplaying Duke, beating the Blue shirts
to every rebound and loose ball, putting a ton of pressure on ball movement, and
just building a ton of momentum in various ways.

Duke managed to survive that onslaught - and the TKO of Luol Deng, who was
knocked cold - and came back. After UNC went up 67-62, Duke shut them out
from the field from the 6:03 mark to the :53 mark, when Sean May scored.
Jawad Williams hit a 3 to tie the score again, and off to overtime it
went. It was nip and tuck in overtime, too. JJ Redick hit two fouls shots
- surprise, surprise - and then Duhon put a shot in with :09 left. UNC
could not score again, and so Duke did it.

While in many respects this game was far from perfect, in some ways, it was
ideal: take a tough opponent, scratch and claw like anyone else would, and
come out ahead.

We saw a lot of thing we liked: for one, really smart ball movement.
For another, Shelden Williams was taking it to a big man and drawing
fouls, and that's all to the good. For another, Redick, when he wasn't
hitting, adjusted smartly. But most of all, what this game showed was a
tremendous resilience. Duke played with guts and passion against a very
talented team which is not at all guaranteed a bid to the post-season.

For another, despite being treated like a pinata, Luol Deng played really
well. And for one more, Daniel Ewing continues to be the quiet
assassin. He really, really comes through when the chips are down.

All things considered, it was a glorious win, one to be celebrated by the
Devils and one to build on. And really, UNC should find a lot of comfort
in it, too, even though they lost. They kicked it up a gear, and if they can
find that again, then they'll settle down a lot.

And, finally, it was a great night for the ACC: the rebirth of the
rivalry reinvigorates everyone else and provides great ratings. We
look forward to a long stretch of great matchups.