It took 3 tries but the Blue Devils finally figured it out against North Carolina. It wasn’t a thing of beauty but the Blue Devils were finally able to top the Tar Heels after being swept in the regular season by Roy Williams’ squad. The Blue Devils were able to eek out a 1 point win in the ACC Tournament semi-finals on the strength of 31 points from freshman superstar Zion Williamson. Williamson clearly looked gassed at times but still was able to managed a double-double (his second of the tournament).
The Tar Heels jumped out to a 13 point lead with 6 minutes to go in the first half. Duke battled back on the strength of a run queued by Zion Williamson who score 12 points down the stretch and ending it with a 3 pointer to tie the game at 44.
The second half saw 7 lead change and the score tied 4 times. Duke and UNC battled back and forth. For Duke the ability to defend Cameron Johnson with Jordan Goldwire was key. The sophomore guard stayed on Johnson’s fighting through screens and limiting Johnson’s ability to get clean looks from the outside. After going 2 of 4 in the first half, Johnson was 0-3 in the second half from beyond the arc. Neither team shot effectively from beyond the arc with Duke only managing 5-20 and UNC 4-26. This version of Duke vs UNC came down to paint touches. Who would win the war of points in the paint. The Blue Devils were able to put up 50 of their 74 points in the paint – the most UNC has surrendered in 8 years. Despite that number the Tar Heels with just second remaining on the clock had a 1 point lead. RJ Barrett, on Duke’s final possession was able to find Zion Williamson in the high post. Williamson backed down fellow freshman Nassir Little but missed his short jumper in the lane but in true Zion fashion he was able to grab and tip in his own rebound for a 1 point lead.
Coby White was able to get the ball down to the other end with plenty of time but his off-balance 3 point shot bounced off the rim and the tip was missed by Nassir Little to end the game.
Wiilamson led all scores with 31 and 11 rebounds for the Blue Devils while Cameron Johnson led the Tar Heels with 23 points. R.J. Barrett led the Blue Devils in assists with 7 to go along with his 15 points and 8 boards.