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UNC Wins In Cameron, 76-72

As Marshall Plumlee said afterwards, there is no quit in his locker room. Duke fought and fought hard. They just lost.

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Mar 5, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) pulls in a rebound against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Kennedy Meeks (3) in the second half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mar 5, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Marshall Plumlee (40) pulls in a rebound against North Carolina Tar Heels forward Kennedy Meeks (3) in the second half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

About halfway through the second half of North Carolina’s 76-72 win over Duke, a Cameron Crazy seated right behind me screamed at the top of her lungs "you’re giving them too many chances."Yep.

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Duke did a lot of things well Saturday night against North Carolina.

Rebounding wasn’t one of them. Carolina submerged Duke under a tsunami of rebounds, buried Duke under an avalanche of rebounds, took their lunch money off the glass.You get my point.

If you’re into math, Carolina outrebounded Duke 64-29. The Tar Heels had more offensive rebounds (27) than Duke did defensive rebounds (21).Duke never led and it seemed like Sisyphus pushing that darned boulder up the hill. But undermanned and undersized, Duke kept fighting and kept pushing, especially Grayson Allen who scored 29 points and earned every one of them.

Defensive rebounding has been a sore spot for Duke since Amile Jefferson went down and all three Duke home losses-Notre Dame and Syracuse were the others—can be pinned to this deficiency.Allen said Duke let Marshall Plumlee fend for himself too much. Matt Jones said it had nothing to do with Xs and Os.

"We knew they would get their fair share of rebounds but we didn’t expect to get outrebounded like that. That’s just hustle, kind of us fighting through whatever we were going through.""They’re an athletic, tough, hard-working team," Plumlee added. "They beat us out there on the boards tonight and that’s a big part of the reason they beat us tonight. It was a hard-fought game and there are some areas we need to improve on and we will moving forward."It didn’t help any that Brandon Ingram got into foul trouble early and never really got out of it. He picked up two fouls in the first nine minutes and took a seat for the rest of the half. Ingram hit intermission with no points and a single rebound.The Tar Heels broke to a 6-0 lead. It got as bad as 22-11 before Duke started hitting 3s. " "We didn’t share the ball well [at the beginning]," Mike Krzyzewski said, "and they were hitting on all cylinders. And the foul trouble to Brandon hurt us."Duke heated up. Luke Kennard hit a 3, then an Allen layup, then another Kennard 3, a Matt Jones 3 and it was 25-22.

A Derryck Thornton 3 made it 29-27.

But every time Duke seemed close to getting over the hump, the Tar Heels scored in the lane and above the rim; Brice Johnson to be sure but also Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks.

It was 40-32 at the half.

The second half could hardly have started worse for Duke. Carolina missed inside but Duke lost the rebound out of bounds. Carolina missed inside again Duke again fumbled the ball out of bounds.

Then Ingram picked up his third foul, guarding Johnson, who converted both foul shots, giving North Carolina its last double-digit lead.

But the Tar Heels went cold. They actually started the second half missing their first 11 field-goal attempts-there were those two Johnson freebies-but Duke wasn’t much better, going1-6 from the field out of the blocks.Duke had to play a lot of zone, which slowed Carolina down but also left open some rebounding lanes.

Lots of them actually.

Ingram stayed in—did Duke really have a choice—and finally got on the board with a layup and two foul shots. The lead narrowed to five, then three, then disappeared entirely, after an Allen 3-pointer tied it at 49.Duke’s high-water mark came shortly after, when Allen stole the ball from Pinson near mid-court. Allen attacked the basket aggressively and got a turnover out of it and a Pinson tip-in at the other end.Krzyzewski called this a "pivotal play."Duke trailed the rest of the way.

The gap reached nine, at 68-59, with 3:22 left. Allen almost single-handedly brought Duke back, scoring eight points in make it 70-67.

One key sequence occurred with about 26 seconds left, when Marcus Paige missed a 3 and the ball went out of bounds. First ruled Duke’s ball, the officials changed their call after looking at the monitors.Darned monitors.

Joel Berry made two foul shots but Kennard nailed a 3 and it was 72-70, with nine seconds left.

Paige was fouled and went to the line for the one-and-one. A preseason All-American, Paige has struggled through a difficult senior season. And he was 1-8 on 3s tonight.

But with the game on the line and Cameron reaching 747-taking-off noise level, Paige buried both foul shots.

And did it again a few seconds later for the final score.

In fact, Carolina went 8-8 from the line in the final 26 seconds of the game.

Kudos to Carolina for making the pressure shots on the road.

And kudos to Duke for forcing them into the position of having to make those pressure foul shots.

Krzyzewski acknowledged the obvious.

"One of the things they do well is rebound and they did that at a very high level.. . . Their rebounding was fantastic. I mean Brice gets 21 and they more than doubled our rebounding. And still we had a chance to win. I mean we were right there.""Krzyzewski also pointed out another area of concern, Duke went to the foul line a modest 15 times, converting nine.

"With all the driving, we’ve got get to the foul line more. Grayson gets 28 shots and has two free throws. Whatever, we still have to get to the foul line, which is what we’ve done a lot this season, until lately because we don’t have an inside game. So, the 3-point shooting is complemented by the free-throw shooting and that’s who we are."Allen ended with 29 points, Ingram scored all 10 of his points after intermission and pulled down eight rebounds. Plumlee ended his Cameron career with nine rebounds but only five points.

One positive going into the post-season was Kennard, who scored 20 points in 36 minutes off the bench, hitting four of nine from beyond the arc.

Kennard went scoreless against Wake Forest Tuesday night.

But the rebounding differential is impossible to ignore. Johnson ended up with 21 rebounds (and 18 points), Meeks 14. Even with those extra chances, North Carolina shot only 35.6 percent from the field and 17.4 (4-23) percent on 3-pointers.

On one second-half possession, North Carolina missed seven shots before Ingram grabbed a defensive rebound.

But they didn’t miss enough.Duke also won the turnover battle, coughing it up only six times, while forcing 14 Carolina turnovers.

But those rebounds. Oh, those rebounds.


In case you’ve been off planet, Duke officially announced this afternoon that Amile Jefferson was out for the season. A medical redshirt will be applied for and Jefferson meets all the requirements. But there is some paperwork involved.With the loss, Duke will have to win four games to capture the ACC title next week, not the best prescription for a thin team.

When asked about that task, Krzyzewski gave the expected one-game-at-a-time answer.

Roy Williams opened his press conference with unsolicited and lengthy praise of Marshall Plumlee.

"I think he’s a fantastic young man. In my opinion, he was the reason they won the game over at our place. I congratulated him."