UNC 76 Duke 68

Defense(clap-clap), Defense(clap-clap), Defense(clap-clap)

Wow, where do I even begin?

How about the best defensive effort of the season made possible by the focused intensity UNC brought on that end of the floor but also by the genius of Roy Williams. According to the players, two days ago Roy implemented a defense they had never played before and it ended up working like a charm. It was heavily debated both here and most likely on the message board whether Roy would breakdown and go zone on Duke given how effective it had been in the two ACC losses and the near miss at NC State. However, there is a reason Roy wins 80% of his games and that is because he can adjust his system to deal with another team instead of chunking the system in place for something he is not comfortable coaching.

Basically, Roy instructed his players to switch on the screens instead of fighting through them and this was effective mainly because even when you ended up with a ton of odd matchups such as Hansbrough guarding Paulus which left a smaller player on one of the Duke bigs, the Devils failed to take advantage of it and UNC guarded the ball well. Part of this scheme also included shadowing guys like Demarcus Nelson with a taller player which made his drives to the basket extremely difficult since he had trouble shooting or finishing over the taller defender. Since Nelson and others had so much trouble finishing and UNC was switching off, the Heels ended up blocking 15 shots.  All of this was executed almost perfectly, especially in the first half when Duke had 10 turnovers. And had UNC done a better job keeping Greg Paulus from hitting threes, UNC would have been up 15-20 at the half. The 2nd half was better for Duke, mainly because they did a better job piercing the UNC defense and seemed to be lifted by the crowd. But when Duke took the lead 68-66 it was the last time they would score and UNC ended up holding Duke to only 68 points and under 40% shooting. And the other shocking thing is UNC scored the same number of points in this game as the last. The difference was the defense, which held Duke to 21 fewer points.

Offensively speaking UNC got the kind of games from Danny Green and Wayne Ellington they missed last month when they combined for 11 points on 4-24 shooting. Tonight was the polar opposite with the duo going 14-28 for 34 points. This was huge because Duke swarmed Hansbrough and for whatever reason the refs decided to eat their whistles making this only the second game since Hansbrough put on a UNC uniform he did not see the FT line. Still he had 16 points and 15 boards including a huge putback late in the game. Ty Lawson looks very close to being back at 100%. There is still some hesitation on his part but he did get to the rack a few times, played excellent defense and looks like he is on track get rolling next week. Quentin Thomas shook off the past two bad games and outside one moment where he lost the ball on the break he played 17 minutes with three assists, five points that included a huge three to keep UNC on pace with Duke. The two PGs combined for 15 points, six assists and three turnovers. Not bad at all.

Overall we saw what UNC is capable of doing on defense. We also saw how balanced they can be on offense if they run into a team swarming Hansbrough and the refs are calling the game loose. This game is another example of a mature and tested Tar Heel team adjusting to the situation and playing winning basketball down the stretch despite the difficulties that arose. UNC finished the regular season undefeated away from the Dean Dome and 8-0 versus the ACC on the road. Given the tough nature of road games in this league that is a rare feat. When Duke took the 68-66 lead, UNC once again showed their mettle and proceeded to pitch a shutout over the final 5:30 to win at Duke for the third straight year. Yes, Steve Lavin, winning at Cameron is possible.

So UNC wins the ACC Regular season outright at 14-2 just as they did in 2005 and 1993 both national title seasons. The Heels enter the ACC Tournament as the #1 seed and will face the winner of the Wake-FSU game.


19 Responses to UNC 76 Duke 68

  1. jackiemanuel says:

    That was rad. Roy completely out-coached the rat. They had no answer in the first half and even though they adjusted admirably in the second half….to take the lead and then try and slow every thing down was pathetic. Carolina was the better team. The rat knew it, and we showed those ass hats what how to play basketball in the last five! Also, i am tanked.

    I want them again a week from today!

  2. rbl says:

    I definitely want them next week. While we are about it, I want them today as well, both in women’s basketball and baseball.

    I got a call from a cousin, a serious Dukie, just before tipoff. Needless to say, he got a return call a couple of hours later. I told him we had lost our power in the blizzard here in Ohio and that I had missed the final. How bad did you beat us? I asked him. He could barely talk.

  3. 52BigGameJames says:

    anyone notice how cool K was to Roy at the end? makes it all that much SWEETER!!

    finally figured out with a bud’s help who Deon reminds me of:

    if his game improves, we may have to make his nickname “Strong Persuader”

  4. 52BigGameJames says:

    more Cray for great blues fans…

  5. 52BigGameJames says:

    rbl: that’s classic stuff, lol!

  6. Chris Tutino says:

    rbl, I hate it that you missed the end of the game but can’t help but smile at the way it played out with your cousin!

    Steve the State Fan, NOW I feel some satisfaction in the season and am smelling some roses today. Winning the ACC regular season outright and beating Dook at Cameron are two accomplishments worth celebrating!

    I do wonder why K and his coaches weren’t wearing the Eve Carson memorial ribbons. I had to keep telling myself that they ran out and simply didn’t have enough for ONLY the Dook coaches. Anybody got an answer to that question?

    Also, if ESPN could have shown the ATM shot of the police suspect in the case, he’d probably be in custody right now. I thought they could have shown that picture, just once, during the pregame or otherwise. You know someone watching that from Durham or Chapel Hill would have recognized that dude. Anyway, just my two cents.

    I am so proud of the Heels and very much looking forward to this week’s action!

  7. Dominic says:

    Congrats to Tyler too for going over the 2,000 point mark, please, please, please stay another year, that goes for all the underclassmen, I want to enjoy another year of this team!

  8. TxTarheel says:

    8-0 since dropping the last game at home to Duk…here’s grand wishing for a continuing roll into San Antone to keep it going. Of all things the ESPN folks on Sports Reporters were applauding UNC’s effort on “D”. Apparently Bob Ryan is recently impressed with Danny Green

    Not to allude to other teams, anyone catch the UCLA ending yesterday? I’m interested if folks here have an opinion on that last shot crossing the backboard…maybe Larry Legend made a shot like that once

  9. william says:

    I actually thought both coaches coached a great game. Duke had us scouted perfectly and it was only that which kept the game so close. They knew that we make 80% from the line and couldn’t put us there and of course the officials calling a loose game probably helped Duke.

    I think networks are going to be a little leery of airing the ATM footage because that guy pictured is such a stereotype. I have seen some newspapers and t.v. statations saying that people should be on the look-out for a young man wearing a jacket and a baseball cap, so maybe that will help

  10. william says:

    I am assuming that we want Clemson to win this game currently on against VPI, which appears would put Clemson in Duke’s bracket and VPI in our bracket, and would mean that the earliest we would have to play Clemson would be the finals. What about the Maryland-Miami game? Anyone have any thoughts on who to root for?

  11. mad,opie says:

    I too have questions reguarding the absense of ribbons on the dook coachig staff,maybe K didn,t have room on his lapel next to his American Express and State Farm decals?In any event I,m not going to let Coach K spoil the moment,all is right with the the world things somehow seem in balance.

  12. Will says:

    Tyler might not have gone off in terms of points, but with the double-double plus the win, I think he put himself in a very strong position for POY.

    It was interesting to me that (as far as I remember), the broadcaster did not even mention Hanbrough is in a two man race for consensus POY.

  13. rbl says:

    Chris Tution,

    Thanks for the concern, but I was pulling my cousin’s long Duke leg.


    I want a piece of the Terps.

  14. Chris Tutino says:

    rbl…it’s even funnier now. i didn’t pick up on the “i told him…” part, or read it and just assumed it was a good possibility! my brother lives in indianapolis and had to drive to OH for work on Friday. he said it was nuts your way…

  15. Awesome game. I was a ta sports bar here in Omaha watching with one of my friends who’s a Dookie, and my brother who’s a UVa fan. When Duke was up 68-66 and there was just a little over three minutes left, I slammed my beer and announced to the table, “Duke doesn’t hit another shot the rest of the game.”
    My bother says, “Gosh I hope so.”
    Duke fan friend says, “You’re drunk.” He proceeds to bet me another beer that Duke wins.
    Guess we know how that one wound up.

  16. Chris says:

    I apologize to Roy for suggesting that he needed to play a zone defense to beat duke. I was obviously wrong, and have placed myself on sports blog suspension for one week for such a serious error.

  17. Tar Heel Fan says:


    You argument was not without merit. There was plenty of evidence to suggest a zone was the way to go with Duke since the Devils had trouble with it. It turns out Roy came up with a different way to deal with it that was effective. So come on back and keep participating in the discussion.

  18. Chris says:

    Thanks THF.

  19. Josh Bowling says:

    No Chris! Stick to your guns on this one. Say it! We should have played zone, and maybe we would have beaten them by 20. But nonetheless, good job Roy, your defensive strategy worked just as well and Chris’s and mine.

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