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Duke Downs Heels, 70-65

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| N&O
| N&O
| N-R
| N-R |
H-S | H-S
| H-S | H-S
| W-S
| Salisbury
| IC | Sportsline
| Chron
| Fayetteville
Box Score |
Quotes |
Notes |

This Duke-Carolina game one of the best games we've ever seen in terms of sheer
intensity and force of will, but perhaps the best part of it was when the game
was on the line and Redick took the ball away from Rashad McCants - the same
McCants who derided Redick before the game, saying that "I don't find J.J. too much of a threat besides shooting 3s. If he's off, he's off. If he's not making any shots, then I don't think he's going to be too much of a factor."
Could there be a sweeter ending possible for Redick? And McCants
now? "I was about to pull up for a 3 and just got pounded," he told the
Herald-Sun. "There was no call. They got the ball so ..." So what?
Everyone else got pounded, too. Shut up and play.

Part of what made this such an overwhelmingly intense game was that it was so
physical. Being Duke fans, we of course noticed the times Duke got
hammered more, and we're sure that's true in reverse for our Carolina
pals. But we saw Shelden Williams get thrown to the floor, no foul,
Shavlik Randolph knocked over backwards while standing still, no foul - the
officiating works both ways, which is why we usually don't talk about it.
We haven't had time yet to watch the tape, but we'll look at it and see what
exactly happened at the end.

A couple of things are absolutely clear: as Roy Williams said, "[i]t would have been nice if Rashad could have handled the ball there and got it to someone for a 3 since he had two men on him, but he lost the ball and J.J. made a dive on the floor and came up with the
ball." He may have agreed with McCants that he was fouled, but he
also pretty much said, we thought, when you're double-teamed, why don't you try
passing once in awhile. Passing is a useful skill.

Secondly, whatever happened, that was done. The fact was, the ball was on the
floor, and Redick pounced first. He didn't have to be in that situation,
and once he was, he could have gone after the ball, too. This reminds us of the
UVa game a few years ago, when Harold Deane stood and complained to the official
about the clock while Wojo took off with the ball and scored. Hey, you
snooze, you lose.

After a first half which wasn't exactly called tight, but which certainly saw
more whistles, the second half saw ten minutes go by before the two teams got
five fouls combined. This in a game where players were flying all over,
because believe us, both teams were playing extremely hard.

In the first half, UNC jumped out to a lead, before Duke settled down a bit.
It seemed for a while that they would never hit a layup, that there was just no
way to compete except for defensively. Yet in spite of the way it seemed,
Duke shot 48.3% in the first half while holding UNC to 34.3%. We wouldn't
have thought that at the time, but there it is (statistical anomaly - Duke shot
precisely 48.3% on 14-29 shooting in both halves. You don't see that too

The intensity at times was overwhelming and came close, we thought, to
boiling over. Shavlik Randolph and Jawad Williams had a very physical
encounter on one Carolina possession. Williams pushed Randolph, pretty
hard, and Randolph shoved back, and got the foul. Players on both sides
were pushing off to get jumpers. Deng got called for it. The crowd
didn't like it, but he definitely did it. Williams was thrown to the
floor, and Sean May had one shot blocked which saw him end up on the floor (we
were at the opposite end and couldn't see whether there was a foul or
not). Raymond Felton went down hard with a hip pointer. And on a
slightly different note, did anyone else's jaw drop on Shavlik's blocked shot?

It was just that kind of a game. And for a while, it seemed as if
things were going UNC's way. Despite running his mouth, there is no
denying McCants' ability to score. He is a sure-fire pro, and will be one
for years to come. And after Felton left the game in the first half, UNC
not only kept up but went ahead. Duke missed enough chippies and enough
free throws early (1-4) to make it seem, in Cameron, that they were not shooting
anywhere near 50%. The effort was there - the effort was incredible - but
a lot of shots which normally go down didn't.

In the second half, shots started falling, and Duke started playing a more
ruthless game. It was clear pretty early that Deng was too quick for UNC's
big defenders, and too big for their quick ones. He drove past them, shot
over them, went around them, probably made their heads spin by the time it was

And when it was over, Deng hit 12-16 on probably his best offensive night at
Duke so far. There was a stretch in the second half where he just took over, and
no one could stop him. He had a gorgeous game.

And at this point in the season, it's hardly necessary to say who else had a
great game: Chris Duhon was phenomenal. When the game was heading
towards the clutch, he made a steal near halfcourt that will go down in Cameron
legend as one of the most amazing of all time.

He hit a clutch shot shortly after that, too. It was another amazing
performance by Duhon, who's had a year-full of them. Julius Hodge will get
a lot of consideration for Player Of The Year, but no one has consistently made
big plays in the clutch like Duhon. He's been simply brilliant.

And lest we forget, Shavlik Randolph had an immensely clutch rebound at the
end as well.

There's probably days worth to write about this game, but we'll have to watch
it again first. Normally, we have a pretty good recollection, but things were
just so overwhelming that we can't keep it all straight.

Before closing, some notes about Cameron: the place was magnificent.
Simply incredible. There was a lot of the carnival atmosphere - a student
dressed as Sean May and was put under a spell by a witch and forced to beg for a
Big Mac. Little Duhon got his final crowd surfing at Cameron, or at least
his final one while Chris is there. When Sean May went to the line, the grad
students popped up with scores of pictures of Matt Doherty. He made both, but it
was funny.

There was quite a celebrity mix - Donald Trump was the mystery guest, Charlie
Rose was there and walked to his own car, thank you very much. Jack Marin
was there, as was Billy King.

The place was as loud as we've ever heard it. At one point, it was
almost painfully loud. But the Crazies were magnificent, and the team
played like warriors. We don't know where these guys are going, but we do
know that we loved the passion they showed. If they play this hard and end
up not going far, we'll be incredibly proud to be Duke fans, because Saturday
was one of the greatest efforts we've ever seen by a Duke team. It ranks
with Vegas in '91 in our book. And you know what? Chances are pretty good
they'll get together and do it again next weekend. Chances are it'll be
equally close, and UNC could definitely win.