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UNC 79 Duke 70

Duke falls to the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill without Zion Williamson and Marques Bolden

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Duke v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 09: Cam Reddish #2 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after a play against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Dean Smith Center on March 09, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

North Carolina defeated Duke 79-70 Saturday night to capture a share of the ACC regular-season championship and sweep the regular-season rivalry with Duke for the first time since 2009.

Duke not only played without Zion Williamson but also lost starting center Marques Bolden less than three minutes into the game with what was diagnosed as a left MCL sprain, severity to be determined.

Krzyzewski called this the latest “combat injury” of the season. He also said that Duke didn’t really have to adjust its game plan, beside the obvious fact that Duke was down another man.

Even without Williamson and Bolden, Duke led much of the first half, two times by five points, the last at 37-32. R.J. Barrett picked up his third foul with 1:57 left in the half on an ill-advised drive but Duke still held a tenuous 40-38 lead at intermission.

Duke was 3-for-12 from beyond the arc in the opening half, while Carolina had a 10-4 advantage on second-chance points.

But Duke got 17 first-half points from an assertive and aggressive Cam Reddish.

“Just be aggressive,” Krzyzewski said of Reddish. “It was a very physical game and for him to take it to hole that much--in some game, he’ll get rewarded a little bit more--but it’s just a maturation process for him. It’s very critical that he had this in this game. Because if he can keep that when Zion comes back, then we have three guys who can really score the ball.”

Barrett added nine points, while Javin DeLaurier scored eight.

Kenny Williams led the Tar Heels with 12 points.

The lead didn’t last long. North Carolina stormed out of the locker room controlling the boards and knocking down five-of-their first eight second-half shots, opening up a 50-44 lead.

Duke was forced to call a timeout with only three minutes gone.

Barrett hit two 3-pointers and Duke tied it at 50.

Then freshman guard Coby White took over. At 55-53 Tar Heels, he nailed a 3-pointer and then got an old-fashioned 3-point play and it was 61-55. Another 3 made it 64-58, then another made it 70-60.

The lead reached 15, at 75-60 and a blow-out loomed. But Duke dug down on defense and started getting some rebounds. The Tar Heels were stuck on 75 for 12 possessions, six minutes.

“We did a good job of coming together,“ Javin DeLaurier said of the comeback. “Just digging in and getting stops. Unfortunately, we let them get too many open shots early and let them get away.”

Duke clawed back, slowly and painfully. But Barrett and Reddish just didn’t have enough help on the offensive end. At 75-60, Duke missed a couple of foul shots, seven-of-nine field goals and couldn’t complete the climb.

Duke got as close as 75-70 but had two empty possessions, both Barrett misses.

“We’re down by 15,” Krzyzewski said, “but we put ourselves in position where we had a chance, down by five and R.J. took the ball to the basket and they blocked it. But I’m proud of the fact that our guys put us in position. But we kept fighting and we’ll be okay if we keep doing that.”

Roy Williams said he told his team “at every timeout, that defense would win this game. I kept screaming ‘guard, guard, guard.’ I think they rushed a couple of shots but I think our defense had something to do with that.”

It’s hard to blame Barrett, who had 17 of Duke’s 30 second-half points. Barrett (26) and Reddish (23) were about the only scoring options Duke had available. Alex O’Connell was MIA--18 scoreless minutes--DeLaurier was scoreless after intermission and Duke only played six in the second half.

Barrett, Reddish and Tre Jones played all 20 minutes in the second half.

On to Charlotte.

“We’ve got to be ready, we’ve got to get back to work,” Reddish said.

Hard to argue with that.

Krzyzewski said Williamson would begin contact work Monday and everything seems to be on track for his imminent return. I would expect Bolden to be out for awhile, although we’ll have to await official word.


Duke and North Carolina each had 48 rebounds. But Carolina had a 22-11 edge on second-chance points. Barrett (12), DeLaurier (10), Luke Maye (16) and Cam Johnson all had double-figure rebounds.

Duke shot 25-for-73 (34 percent), 8-for32 on 3s (25 percent).

Tre Jones had seven assists, DeLaurier four blocks.

Coby White led the Tar Heels with 21 points. Kenny Williams added 18, including four-of-seven on three-pointers. He came into the game shooting 28.7 percent on threes.

At 14-4 ACC (26-5 overall), Duke is locked into third place in the ACC Tournament and will open play Thursday, after a double-bye.


Player Of The Game vs. UNC

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    RJ Barrett
    (158 votes)
  • 56%
    Cam Reddish
    (392 votes)
  • 3%
    Marques Bolden
    (27 votes)
  • 1%
    Tre Jones
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (19 votes)
  • 5%
    Jack White
    (36 votes)
  • 8%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (58 votes)
700 votes total Vote Now
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