Tar Heels' Rx for success just not the same at Duke Saturday
North Carolina beat Duke last month at the Smith Center by using its size advantage to win the rebounding battle and by limiting the best 3-point shooting team in the ACC to 23 percent from behind the arc.
Neither of those things happened in the rematch at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night, which is how a Tar Heel team that shot 60 percent from the field lost 93-81.
UNC (23-8, 13-5 ACC) gave up more points than it had all season and was outrebounded 34-20. Duke (24-7, 13-5) turned 16 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points.
"Rebounding battles, I thought going into the game, was going to be key," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "And I thought it would be an area where we could - could - have an advantage, and instead, they just destroyed us on the backboards."
On the inside, starting power forward James Michael McAdoo was hampered by foul trouble and starting center Kennedy Meeks, who was throwing up at the pre-game meal, had just one rebound in 12 minutes and missed his only shot.
McAdoo was strong when he was in the game — scoring 11 points in 12 first-half minutes — but he picked up two fouls in the first six minutes, and then his third with 5:13 left in the half after scoring on three straight possessions to cut UNC’s deficit to four.
The Tar Heels got within three at the half, but McAdoo was whistled for his fourth 52 seconds after the restart when he fouled Amile Jefferson, who beat McAdoo to an offensive rebound.
With UNC unable to exploit its size advantage inside, the game got away from the Tar Heels when Duke finally started hitting its 3s. After going 2 of 13 from behind the arc in the first half — and 5 of 22 in the first meeting — the Blue Devils went 6 for 10 in the second half to extend their lead to 19 with 8:31 left.
As a result of the loss, UNC will be the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament and will face No. 5 Pittsburgh, No. 12 Wake Forest or No. 13 Notre Dame in the quarterfinals Friday at 2:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Tar Heels came in with a 12-game winning streak, its longest in conference play since 1986. But they hadn’t played their best recently, winning their last three games by a total of seven points.
On the other hand, the Blue Devils hadn’t lost in 32 home games dating back to UNC’s trip here two years ago, and while Duke had given up 17 straight points late in a loss at Wake Forest Wednesday, Duke was 25-1 after a loss since the start of the 2009-10 season.
Duke came out with a vengeance on Saturday, jumping out to a 17-3 lead as the Tar Heels committed six turnovers in the first six minutes.
Marcus Paige, the Tar Heels’ leading scorer, had three turnovers and didn’t take a shot until a driving lay-up with 4:04 to go in the half.
Still, Duke made just 1 of its first 11 shots from behind the arc, and UNC trailed by just three at the break.
Duke then blew the game open with a 22-9 run in the first six minutes of the second half, taking advantage of four more UNC turnovers and making 7 of its first 10 shots, including 3 of 4 from long range.
“We got off to a bad start in the first half and a bad start in the second half,” Williams said. “The first half we were able to fight back. The second half we were not.”
Paige, who scored all 12 of his points in the first game against Duke in the second half, put together another strong closing performance. He had 18 of his 24 after halftime — including a four-point play that cut Duke’s lead to 81-73 with 2:50 remaining.
But after the Tar Heels forced two turnovers in the backcourt, Paige missed two 3s that could have gotten UNC even closer – teammate Brice Johnson interfered with the first one at the basket, and Parker blocked the second one.
The mishap by Johnson overshadowed a strong performance on offense — the sophomore finished with 15 points and nine of UNC’s 20 rebounds. But that wasn’t nearly enough to match the strong 1-2 performance by Duke’s Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, who combined for 54 points.
“Between Jabari and Rodney we really had trouble trying to figure out how to stop them,” Williams said. “And at the end of the game we still hadn’t figured it out.”
|No. 4 DUKE 93, No. 14 NORTH CAROLINA 81|
Percentages: FG .596, FT .737.
3-Point Goals: 5-12, .417 (Paige 3-6, McDonald 2-4, Britt 0-1, Tokoto 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 5 (McAdoo 2, Johnson, Tokoto, Paige).
Turnovers: 13 (Paige 4, Johnson 2, McDonald 2, McAdoo, James, Meeks, Tokoto, Britt).
Steals: 8 (McDonald 2, Paige 2, Johnson 2, Tokoto, McAdoo).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .509, FT .871.
3-Point Goals: 8-23, .348 (Hood 3-7, Parker 2-4, Sulaimon 1-2, Cook 1-4, Dawkins 1-5, Thornton 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Parker, Jefferson).
Turnovers: 13 (Dawkins 3, Cook 3, Hood 2, Sulaimon 2, Parker).
Steals: 9 (Jefferson 3, Dawkins 2, Hood, Parker, Thornton, Cook).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Karl Hess, Mike Eades, Ray Natili.