Don’t you hate it when you have to re-write your article?
Well, maybe not so much.
And it’s not like I’m getting to sleep anytime soon.
Robby West, Chris Duhon, Austin Rivers and now Wendell Moore. Duke players who scored at or near the buzzer to beat North Carolina. Moore scarfed up a rebound and laid it in a few ticks before the clock struck zero Saturday night in the Smith Center, giving Duke a 98-96 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels.
And this in overtime; overtime of a game that Duke trailed for 41 minutes and 50 seconds and survived more than a few near-death experiences.
Mike Krzyzewski said that Tre Jones played his best game at Duke and it’s hard to argue the point, no pun intended. Jones ended with 28 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals, all the while checking UNC’s presumed lottery pick Cole Anthony.
But it was three Jones misses - one intentional, two not - that keyed the win.
The first came with Duke trailing 84-81, with four seconds left and Jones at the line. Jones made the first foul shot, missed the second on purpose, chased down the rebound and tied the game just before the buzzer.
“We talk about it” Mike Krzyzewski said “but he made not a good play, that was an amazing play. That’s one of those clinic things.”
“Tre made an unbelievably hard play,” Roy Williams said. “He’s a tough kid and someone I have a lot of respect for as a player and young man.”
Jones then scored a quick five points in a minute and Duke was up 90-85.
That 90th point was Jones’ 14th point in the final 48 seconds of regulation and the beginning of overtime, all of Duke’s scoring in overcoming UNC’s 80-75 regulation lead.
By this point the two teams resembled heavyweight fighters staggering through the 15th round.
But Carolina—and they deserve enormous credit for this—fought back and took apparent control, an 11-1 run putting them up 96-91, with 20 seconds left.
All 11 of these points were either layups or free throws. Vernon Carey fouled out with 4:16 left and Duke trailing 77-64. Duke used a small lineup to stage the spectacular comeback and Duke stuck with it down the stretch, giving up rim protection for quickness.
Jones made a layup and it was 96-93. But he was also fouled. He missed the and-one but Duke got the ball back and Moore scored inside.
The Tar Heels turned it over on the inbounds. Jones was fouled with 6.6 seconds left. He made the first, missed the second, Duke again got the ball back, Jones missed and Moore finished it off.
Whew. It wore me out watching it and it wore me out writing about it.
About those first 36 minutes. The Tar Heels came out with more energy than Duke and threatened to run off and leave the visitors. The Blue Devils led at 4-3 before a 12-3 Carolina run gave them a working margin they protected for most of the game.
It was 44-35 at the half.
No one familiar with the rivalry was totally surprised. But the nature of the lead had some unexpected wrinkles.
Cole Anthony was good in the first half, 10 points and 3 assists.
But he wasn’t transcendent.
Carolina outrebounded Duke 22-14 but only had a 3-2 edge in second-chance points.
Rather it was the complementary players who did so much early damage. Leaky Black, Andrew Platek, Justin Pierce and Christian Keeling combined for 20 first-half points, UNC’s bench outscoring Duke’s 11-0.
Krzyzewski said he challenged his perimeter players at halftime.
“At halftime we got on our perimeter because we thought their perimeter was beating us and even the first eight minutes of the second half, they were beating us. But then our perimeter just stepped up.”
Carey kept Duke above water in the first half with 18 points. But he couldn’t stay on the floor in the second half, committing four fouls in less than 11 minutes, fouling out with that same 18 points.
And it’s not like he was getting much help from Duke’s bigs. Matthew Hurt and Jack White went scoreless in 19 combined minutes. Javin DeLaurier had 2 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes.
So Duke clawed back with an assortment of wings and guards. Alex O’Connell came off the bench for a couple of 3s, Joey Baker for one. And Jordan Goldwire made some big defensive plays, three steals among them.
But Jones, Moore and Cassius Stanley scored 50 of Duke’s 63 second-half points.
“We opened up the court to drive more,” Krzyzewski said “and that worked for us... Cassius and Wendell had to guard big guys and they did but then those guys had to guard them.”
Stanley’s contributions shouldn’t be ignored, especially his 7-of-8 foul shooting.
“We saw a beautiful basketball game by everybody,” he said. “It was unreal. It was the greatest game I’ve ever been part of in my life, probably ever. Just keep it going, don’t stop. We knew we were in the game the whole time. We knew that we just had to buckle down and the ball would eventually bounce our way and it did.”
Krzyzewski credited Jones for his leadership.
“He was so good at time-outs. We’re trying to get him to talk more and his positive talk; ’we’re going to win, we’ve got this, you can count on me’. The kids responded to him.”
That last play?
Moore said it was instinct.
“I saw the ball in the air and thought to myself ‘I think I can go get this.’ I wasn’t even sure it went in until my teammates mobbed me.”
Moore is from North Carolina, so he grew up with this rivalry.
“It hasn’t really sunk in. A kid growing up from Charlotte watching this game his whole life. It meant more to play in it the first time and more to win it the first time.”
Jones? “We earned this.”
Full disclosure. North Carolina shot 21-of-38 from the foul line, their post players Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot 4-for-14.
The Tar Heels outrebounded Duke 51-42 but had 18 turnovers to Duke’s 12.
Moore led Duke with 10 rebounds to go along with his 17 points, his first Duke double-double. Stanley scored 22 points.
Anthony led UNC with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
The win ended a three-game Duke losing streak in the Smith Center.
Duke is 10-4 against UNC in overtime games and has won four straight extra-time games since that epic 1995 UNC double-OT game.
Duke is now 10-2 in the ACC and 20-3 overall, Duke’s 24th straight season with at least 20 wins.
A quick turnaround for Duke, a potent Florida State team at Cameron Monday night.
UNC drops to 10-13, 3-9 in the ACC and likely needs a Greensboro miracle to go dancing.
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Player Of The Game vs. UNC
This poll is closed
Alex O’ Connell