Game Preview: Duke Blue Devils vs North Carolina Tar Heels

Duke vs UNC - Does it get any better?

In Game Previews by Brian Horace1 Comment

FEB. 8 | DEAN E. SMITH CENTER | CHAPEL HILL, NC | 6 PM

Series Info

Overall: 252nd meeting; North Carolina leads, 139-112
In Durham: Duke leads, 54-49
In Chapel Hill: UNC leads, 63-36 (19-15 at Smith Center)
At neutral sites: North Carolina leads, 27-22
Current streak: Duke, W1
Coach K vs. North Carolina: 47-44

Media Info

TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman/Jay Bilas/Holly Rowe)
WatchESPN
Radio: Blue Devil Sports Network (David Shumate/John Roth)
Duke Radio Affiliates
National Radio: Westwood One (Spero Dedes/Will Perdue)
Sirius/XM: 81 / 81 (Duke broadcast)

The Blue Devils face UNC in one that fans of both teams wait for the entire season. The first of their 2 yearly matchups. A game that history has shown can go either team, an emotion-fueld game that is without argument the most intense rivalry in sports. 

In the 100th anniversary season of the Duke-North Carolina basketball rivalry, the teams meet for the 252nd time on Saturday night at the Dean E. Smith Center. No. 7 Duke has won four of the last eight at the Smith Center, and all-time under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils lead the series, 47-44. The last 100 games of the Duke-UNC series are split 50-50, with each team scoring 7,746 points over the last 100 games. Coach K picked up his 500th ACC win (regular season and tournament) on Tuesday at Boston College, along with his 188th ACC road win -- both figures are ACC records. Bob Cousy Award candidate Tre Jones leads the ACC in assists (6.7), is second in steals (1.9), third in A/T ratio (2.4), 10th in scoring (15.2) and 10th in field goal pct. (.442). Jones is one of only two major conference players in the nation averaging 15.0+ points, 6.0+ assists, a 2.0+ A/T ratio and shooting .440+ from the field. Freshman Vernon Carey Jr., has 11 double-doubles this season. Each have been 15-10 games; eight have been 20-10 efforts -- second-most among major conference players. The Blue Devils are second in the NCAA in scoring margin (+17.7) and third in points (82.5), and their four 30-point wins in ACC play have tied a school record.

Duke vs UNC

The 2019-20 season marks the 100th anniversary of the first Duke-North Carolina game, which was played January 24, 1920 -- a 36-25 UNC win in Durham. Saturday’s game in Chapel Hill is the 252nd all-time meeting, with North Carolina leading the series, 139-112.

  • In Chapel Hill, UNC leads 63-36, including 19-15 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Duke has won four of the last eight at UNC. Duke is 47-44 versus UNC under Mike Krzyzewski.
  • Saturday’s game marks the 56th consecutive in the series that Duke enters as a ranked team, and the 118th game in the series overall that Duke is ranked. As a ranked team, Duke is 67-50 versus UNC.
  • RJ Barrett’s 33 points against the Heels in the first meeting last season marked the most by a Duke freshman in the rivalry’s history.
  • Duke defeated Carolina, 74-73, in the semifinals of the 2019 ACC Tournament en route to the Blue Devils’ 21st ACC title, paced by 31 points from Zion Williamson.
  • The teams have split the last 100 games in the series, with each team scoring 7,746 points over those 100 games.
  • An expanded Duke-UNC series history can be found on the last page of these game notes.

The Opponent

North Carolina is 10-12 overall and 3-8 in ACC play.

  • The Tar Heels are 2-3 over their last five, but the three setbacks have come by a total of nine points, including a double-overtime decision at Virginia Tech, 79-77, and a one-point loss to Boston College, 71-70.
  • Freshman Cole Anthony missed 11 games with an injury, but returned two games ago. He leads the team in scoring (19.5), while averaging 6.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
  • Garrison Brooks is averaging 14.9 points and is third in the conference in rebounding (9.1).
  • Carolina leads the ACC in both rebounds per game (43.2) and rebounding margin (+8.7). Duke is second in both categories (39.8, +6.7)

Duke

Duke has held the opponent’s leading scorer to below his season scoring average 14 times this season, including in 12 of the last 15 games. In ACC play, Duke has faced nine of the conference’s 15 leading scorers 12 times, and held all but one (Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes) to below the player’s scoring average. Wake Forest’s Brandon Childress was held scoreless in Duke’s win on Jan. 11 at Cameron Indoor -- he’s ninth in the ACC at 15.3 points, while the ACC’s second-leading scorer Jordan Nwora (19.4) was limited to six points in the Cardinals’ victory on Jan. 18. Nwora’s six points were a season low, while Virginia Tech freshman Landers Nolley II (fourth in the ACC at 17.2) scored just seven versus Duke. Miami’s Chris Lykes (eighth in the ACC, 15.7) was held to single digits in both Duke games.

Duke is second nationally in scoring margin (+17.7) and third nationally in scoring offense (82.5). Duke is 10-0 this season when scoring 85+ points. Seven of Duke’s 19 wins are by 30+ points, including four ACC wins by 30+, which ties a program record. The program record for most 30-point wins in ACC play was previously set in 1997-98, 1998-99 and 2000-01. The 39-point margin in the BC win (88-49) was Duke’s largest in an ACC game since beating Georgia Tech, 110-57, on Jan. 3, 2017.

Vernon Carey Jr. leads the Blue Devils in both scoring and rebounding, nearly averaging a double-double with 17.8 points per game and 9 rebounds. Carey also leads the team in blocks at just under 2 per game. Tre Jones leads the Blue Devils in assists at 6.7 per game, he also averages 15 points and a team leading 2 steals per game. Cassius Stanley and Matthew Hurt round out the double figure scorers for the Blue Devils with 12 and 10.9 points per game respectively.

My Thoughts
Say what you will about UNC's season, and it has been a rough one, wrought with injury they are still 2nd in the conference in rebounding (1st in offensive), 5th in assists. They have weaponry on both ends of the court and I expect for them to be up to the task. What you've done up until a Duke vs UNC matchup is completely inconsequential - it's a different animal. I fully expect UNC to go after Vernon Carey Jr., with Duke being thin in serviceable bigs - more teams will start to go after Carey to get him in foul trouble. On switches Carey is going to have to be careful when guarding against the drive, if the Duke guards do a good job of keeping UNC in front and not leaving Carey out to dry, that could alleviate some of the worry. Carey, for his part must be careful on the offensive end as well. He'll need to cut out the fouls off of rebounds and establish good positioning down low. UNC bigs tend to be good at the mid-range shot, I don't expect them to settle for that shot often but guarding those could be tricky for Carey - shot fakes could be particulary tempting for the big man to go for.  If Duke can get a solid rotation of bigs, utilizing Jack White and Javin DeLaurier - provided they can be productive, Duke can kill two birds with one stone. Keeping Carey energized and hopefully out of foul trouble. If Duke can get solid minutes from Matthew Hurt on the defensive end then all the better, Hurt has been, at times, a liability on that end either having slow footwork or being muscled by stronger bodies. His matchup could be a zero sum game provided he is hitting his shots. Duke also has the option of going with a smaller lineup that could feature Wendell Moore at the forward spot. Moore has proved a capable defender and could create a matchup issue for UNC on their defensive end. Whatever strategy the Blue Devils do use will probably deepened on how the first 10 minutes of the game play out. This is a game where Duke having depth could be a real benefit, but only if that depth provides the necessary production.

Probable Starting Lineups

Duke

Guard - Tre Jones - 6'3, 185lbs
Guard - Jordan Goldwire - 6'2, 185lbs
Guard - Cassius Stanley - 6'6, 193lbs
Forward - Matthew Hurt - 6'9, 214lbs
Center - Vernon Carey - 6'10, 270lbs

North Carolina

Guard - Cole Anthony - 6'3, 190lbs
Guard - Andrew Platek - 6'3, 200lbs
Guard - Leaky Black - 6'7, 185lbs
Forward - Garrison Brooks - 6'9, 230lbs
Forward - Armando Bacot - 6'10, 232lbs

Stats Comparison

Duke FG%
48.4%
North Carolina FG%
40.8%
DUKE 3PT FG%
35.4%
North Carolina 3PT FG%
29.6%
DUKE FT%
69.2%
North Carolina FT%
65.6%
DUKE PPG
82.5
North Carolina PPG
70.9

 

Comments

  1. I agree with you –
    espe ially the first 10 minutes nutes. Duke needs to come out strong and ply centered and not making unnecessary fouls. It’s a long game and UNC will go after the freshman. Have no doubt they watched what everyone did to beat Duke.

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