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2018 ACC Tournament: UNC 74 Duke 69

A late comeback wasn’t enough this time.

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NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Duke vs North Carolina
Mar 9, 2018; New York, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils guard Trevon Duval (1) drives around North Carolina Tar Heels forward Theo Pinson (1) during the first half of a semifinal game of the 2018 ACC tournament at Barclays Center. 
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Duke never seriously got into its ACC Tournament match with UNC until the last few minutes and by then it was really too late.

If you want to focus on one issue in this game, consider the number 18.

That was how many turnovers Duke had and UNC capitalized on a lot of them.

We like to combine rebounds and turnovers, considering turnovers as shots that never happened.

UNC won the offensive boards 18-12 and lost the overall battle 40-39.

Several of those offensive boards came in a late cluster though which slowed Duke’s comeback.

There were some secondary factors in this one - there usually are even if we the public don’t know what they are. For Duke, Wendell Carter played through a foot injury and Trevon Duval had his own early which limited his mobility.

He had to be helped off the court and it didn’t look as if he would be back. But his ankle was retaped and he got back on the court.

Without his usual quickness and explosiveness, Duval got a preview of the end of his career as one of the slower and less effective guys on the court. He was 0-6 and had five of Duke’s turnovers.

As his career goes on and especially when he’s older he’ll have to rely on his intelligence rather than overwhelming athleticism. Welcome to your 30s, Trevon.

For his part, Carter did better, finishing with 14 points, nine boards and four blocks, including one on Luke Maye where he simply went up and came down with the ball which beats spiking it into the stands.

Marvin Bagley finished with 19 points and 13 boards and while UNC defended him well, they couldn’t stop him completely. Unfortunately he also had four turnovers.

Grayson Allen had 16 points, four assists and four turnovers and Gary Trent, who showed a tremendous will, had 20 points, six rebounds, three steals and, unlike the other starters, no turnovers.

In general, UNC played with more maturity and, as Jay Bilas said, will, than did Duke. This was particularly true of Theo Pinson whose tournament play has soared.

At this point, we’d have to say he’s the frontrunner for the tournament MVP. He’s been unbelievably great.

To focus in on one play at the end, he had picked up four fouls and had the judgment and nerve to draw a charge on Bagley.

With 5:34 left, UNC was up 72-56 and it seemed unlikely that Duke would be able to come back, but the Blue Devils nearly did.

First Allen hit a three, then he got the ball to Carter for a layup. Allen hit another three to cut it to 72-66 with 1:50 left.

Trent hit a three with :51 left to cut the lead to 72-69 and that, as they say, was that.

Grayson Allen charged and had a chance to hit a three pointer with 0:06 left. He could have also passed back to Trent who was behind him.

He tried to draw a foul from UNC’s Luke Maye, who didn’t bite, and he ended up with an airball.

It was a disappointing end to a disappointing game but the good news is that the season goes on. The NCAA field will be announced Sunday and we’ll see what Duke gets.

Properly applied, the sting from this loss should be good motivation.


Player of the game vs. UNC

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Marvin Bagley
    (70 votes)
  • 7%
    Grayson Allen
    (32 votes)
  • 54%
    Gary Trent
    (220 votes)
  • 6%
    Wendell Carter
    (28 votes)
  • 1%
    Trevon Duval
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Marques Bolden
    (5 votes)
  • 6%
    Jack White
    (26 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (18 votes)
406 votes total Vote Now

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