UNC cemented themselves as the head of the class with a 90 to 83 victory at home versus Duke. For UNC it was tale of Joel Berry having ice water in his veins and Justin Jackson being ice cold from the floor. In the end Berry played out of his mind pacing the Tar Heels with 28 who had already wrapped up the “regular season” championship.
Duke made a game of it and were a few blown free throws from having a chance at the end of the game. It was clear that the Duke guards began to tire out in the late stages of the game while UNC looked fresh and made the plays in the end to win. UNC also got 21 and 9 from Isaiah Hicks and 15 from Justin Jackson who went 1-7 from beyond the arc. For Duke.
For Duke Luke Kennard scored 28 points on 9 of 17 shooting, adding to that was Frank Jackson who dropped 15, Jayson Tatum with 13, Amile Jefferson with 12 and Grayson Allen added 14 off the bench.
Duke played well for the most part holding their own against the vaunted UNC from line only conceding a 4 rebound advantage to UNC. Duke did not hold the 3-point advantage that they achieved in the first matchup only hitting one more than UNC. Duke did dominate on the free throw line with a 12 point advantage but ironically missing free throws late but Kennard and Allen put Duke in a predicament where they could not keep up with UNC’s scoring in the latter moments.
The loss puts Duke at the 5 seed in the ACC Tournament and gives them a first round bye and not the double bye the team was seeking with a win.
Even with the loss there improvements evident on this Duke team. Duke had a much more balanced scoring offense and even went early to Jefferson for points in the paint. Duke’s defense while not stellar was much improved, winning a couple of games in the ACCT may be a good time for Duke to fix some things.