In a classic Duke-UNC nail-biter, the Blue Devils give Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski the best gift he could ask for. Down four points at the half, Duke surged back to win 73-68 in a strong, collective team effort.
Here’s your postgame recap:
Revisiting the three keys to the game:
- How fast will it get? Duke turned the ball over four more times than North Carolina, and the Tar Heels took advantage of the Blue Devil’s faults, turning them into easy baskets. In the second half, Duke was the team controlling the pace. They lengthened their possessions and had the ball for the majority of the time.
- Can Mason play tough D and avoid foul trouble? Mason struggled with foul trouble all night, which resulted in easy baskets for James Micheal McAdoo and the cutting Tar Heels while Plumlee tried to keep himself in the game. When it counted Plumlee did step up though, and Duke managed to hold on and win the game.
- The size differential on the perimeter. Bullock picked apart Duke’s defense in the first half, scoring nine points off of three 3-point shots. Duke caught on in the second half, limiting Bullock and the rest of the Tar Heels from deep.
Three key plays:
- 14:35, second half. Quinn Cook, who was perfect with three-pointers at this point, missed a jump shot, but Tyler Thornton grabbed the rebound and found Rasheed Sulaimon. Sulaimon drove down the middle looking for a lay up, but instead whipped it to Josh Hairston. Hairston powered toward the basket for an easy hoop. A Seth Curry three on the next play gave Duke its first lead of the game.
- 13:11, second half. Following a fingeroll from Quinn Cook, Plumlee grabbed the missed three by Marcus Paige. Plumlee passed to Cook, who quickly relayed the ball to Sulaimon. Sulaimon planted and drained the three-point shot.
- 4:59, second half. Mason Plumlee grabs the defensive rebound off of a P.J. Hairston missed jumpshot. Quinn Cook took a quick jumpshot but missed. Seth Curry pounced on the loose ball, took it outside, and connected an NBA–range three.
Three key stats:
- Duke shot 40 percent 3-point shots: Entering the game shooting just under 41% from long range, Duke struggled to drain 3-pointers in the first half. Luckily, Tyler Thornton kept Duke’s numbers up, hitting three triples.
- 30 Total Turnover: Mistakes by both sides led to a number of made baskets. UNC had the advantage in the first half, while Duke benefited from errors in the second half. Turnover differential was one of the keys to victory here.
- Duke shot 85 percent from the free throw line: In order to fight back in the second half, Duke needed to rely on strong free throw shooting. As a team, the Blue Devils hit 17 of 20 free throws, and was phenomenal at the stripe in crunch time.
And the Duke game ball goes to … Tyler Thornton. Thornton had a perfect evening, hitting three three-pointers and playing gritty defense.. Coming off the bench, the guard finished with three rebounds, two of which were offensive. His presence on defense played a huge role in Duke’s comeback.
And the UNC game ball goes to … Reggie Bullock. The Tar Heel forward drained four three-pointers, ending with 15 points and eight rebounds. Bullock was instrumental in putting North Carolina ahead in the first half.