It was definitely sweet redemption for the Devils playing against UNC in the finals of the ACC Tournament, It’s the scenario both teams and coaches probably wanted. The fans wanted it as well, it sometimes seems that if it isn’t Duke vs. UNC somethings missing. Carolina was riding high after winning the ACC regular season, beating Duke in Chapel Hill and winning it’s first 2 tournament games in overtime and on a last second jumper. Duke played in two competitive games but never really seemed too threatened. It was hard to predict which Duke and which UNC would materialize in this game. Duke obviously had the experienced players, most of which played in this tournament last year and won it. UNC is younger full of fresh faces and it pretty much told the story of the first few minutes of play, UNC felt the brunt of Dukes pressure defense so much so that Roy Williams felt it necessary to sit out his freshman guard Kendall Marshall and settle him down a bit. Duke was able to punch first and build a bit of a lead but never really pulled away to safe distance but what Duke was not going to allow was Carolinas long front line to dominate this game. The Plumlees played a very tough game, as did Ryan Kelly and Kyle Singler. It seems as if the coaching staff challenge these guys and empowered them to really hold their own against UNCs big men. Something that did not happen in either of the two previous meetings. With Nolan Smith and Seth Curry pressuring the ball, and making it hard for Zeller and Henson to get the ball where they needed it all the Duke bigs had to do was play stout defense and rebound the basketball. While Duke did not win the rebounding battle, they held their own and got the key rebounds.
On the offensive end Nolan Smith found the perfect balance between scorer and distributor. Nolan managed to score 20 points but also dished out 10 assists, you could clearly see the growth in Nolans gameplay. Driving and kicking seemed to be the name of the game and Duke did it to perfection, getting open looks from 3 for Andre Dawkins, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly. Everyone seemed to be on the same page in this game for the Devils and refuse to lose was the mantra. Even with foul problems mounting for the Devils, they would not be deterred. They kept the foot on the gas and even when Harrison Barnes began to get the hot hand, Duke kept up and stepped up the pressure. Kyle Singler didn’t score a ton of points but did a good job defensively on Harrison Barnes when he was on him and pulled down 8 rebounds. Nolan also got some key shots from Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins. Curry went 4-6, 3 of those were 3 pointers. Dawkins was 3-4 all 3 pointers. Miles Plumlee had some surprise offense with 9 points on 4 for 4 shooting, all in all it was a great effort by all the Dukies.
It was the kind of game you wanted to see this team get to, and the kind of finish to ACC play that Duke was hoping for heading into the NCAA tournament where Duke secured a No.1 seed out west and will begin the dance in Greensboro.
|Duke Blue Devils|
|Kyle Singler, F||39||5-14||1-6||0-0||1||8||1||0||0||4||4||11|
|Miles Plumlee, F||19||4-4||0-0||1-4||4||7||0||0||0||1||2||9|
|Nolan Smith, G||39||6-18||1-3||7-7||0||4||10||2||0||3||4||20|
|Seth Curry, G||27||4-6||3-5||0-1||1||4||0||2||0||2||3||11|
|Mason Plumlee, F||33||3-5||0-0||0-2||1||5||2||0||1||2||4||6|
|Andre Dawkins, G||13||3-4||3-4||0-0||0||1||0||0||0||0||1||9|
|Ryan Kelly, F||28||4-7||1-2||0-1||0||3||1||3||3||0||2||9|
|Tyler Thornton, G||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Josh Hairston, F||1||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|North Carolina Tar Heels|
|Tyler Zeller, F||32||5-11||0-0||4-6||3||4||0||0||3||2||1||14|
|John Henson, F||33||4-15||0-0||2-3||7||18||2||0||2||1||2||10|
|Dexter Strickland, G||21||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||3||4||0|
|Harrison Barnes, F||37||6-15||1-4||3-4||1||2||0||0||0||0||1||16|
|Kendall Marshall, G||32||3-10||0-0||2-4||1||4||4||1||0||5||2||8|
|Justin Knox, F||14||2-5||0-0||0-0||1||4||0||0||0||1||1||4|
|Justin Watts, G||7||0-0||0-0||0-0||1||2||0||0||0||1||2||0|
|Leslie McDonald, G||24||1-6||1-4||3-4||1||4||1||3||0||3||3||6|