Duke Blue Devils (22-8, 13-6) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (19-11, 11-8)
Game #31 • Road Game #10 • ACC Game #20 • Saturday, March 4, 2023 • 6:30 p.m. ET
Dean E. Smith Center (21,750) • Chapel Hill, N.C.
Radio: Blue Devils Sports Network from LEARFIELD / Compass Media
Winners of five straight and capping its first undefeated home season since 2014, Duke heads to Chapel Hill Saturday night for the regular-season finale vs. North Carolina.
The rivals are meeting for the 260th time overall and 38th time at the Smith Center where Carolina is 20-17 in the series. Duke has won in two of its last three trips.
Saturday’s regular-season finale at North Carolina marks the 260th all-time meeting in the rivalry’s history. Duke won at the Dean Smith Center last season, 87-67, defeated Carolina in the season’s first meeting, 63-57, on Feb. 4 at Cameron Indoor and is looking to complete the season sweep. Jeremy Roach scored a game-high 20 points in the Feb. 4th meeting, while freshman Dereck Lively II had 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots (a Duke record vs. UNC). The all-time series favors the Tar Heels, 143-116, with UNC leading 64-38 in Chapel Hill and 20-17 at the Smith Center where Duke has won two of the last three times. Duke is looking for its first back-to-back wins in Chapel Hill since winning 84-77 in 2015 and again, 74-73, in 2016. The Blue Devils last swept the regular-season series in 2019-20 — 98-96 in OT in Chapel Hill and 89-76 in Durham. The last 100 games in the series favor Duke, 51-49.
Overall UNC leads, 143-116
In Durham, NC Duke leads, 56-51
at Cameron Indoor Stadium Duke leads, 47-39
In Chapel Hill, NC UNC leads, 64-38
at Smith Center UNC leads, 20-17
Neutral Sites UNC leads, 28-22
Last Meeting @Duke 63, UNC 57 (Feb. 4, 2023)
Last 10 Games in Series Tied, 5-5
The Blue Devils are 22-8 overall and enter the weekend tied with Clemson for fourth in the ACC at 13-6. Duke has won six in a row since losing in overtime at Virginia on February 11. Duke is looking to sweep Carolina in the regular season for the first time since 2019-20 and the 18th time in the rivalry’s ACC history (since 1953-54). Two of the last three occurrences have come with Duke completing the sweep in Chapel Hill (2013, 2015).
They enter the final weekend having secured a top-five seed in the ACC Tournament, marking the Blue Devils’ ACC-best 15th top-five ACC finish in the last 16 seasons and 37th in the last 40. Duke has held 26 of 30 opponents below their season scoring average (22-4 in those games) and the Blue Devils are second in the conference in scoring defense (64.0), second in three point field goal defense (.310) and second in field goal defense (.412). Duke is 6-1 this season in games decided by four points or fewer.
Junior Jeremy Roach is averaging 19.5 points over his last two games — 19 points and a career-high 11 assists (first career double-double) in the Virginia Tech win and 20 points in Tuesday’s win over NC State. Five of his six career 20-point games have come this season. Freshman Kyle Filipowski (right), the eight-time ACC Rookie of the Week, leads all power conference freshmen in rebounding (9.0) and leads all NCAA frosh in double-doubles (13). Emerging as one of the nation’s top on-ball defenders, freshman Tyrese Proctor has climbed to the 92nd percentile defensively. Over Duke’s five-game winning streak, Proctor has drawn the defensive assignment on five of the league’s top-scoring guards and yielded just 22 points (4.4) on 8-of-27 shooting (.296) as the primary defender. The balanced Blue Devils, who have had four or more starters score in double figures in three straight games, lead the ACC in bench scoring at 19.8 points per game.
About North Carolina
North Carolina comes into Saturdays matchup with a 19-11 record and a conference record of 11-8. The Heels are on a 3 game winning streak that includes 2 wins on the road and a home victory against Virginia – they are in need of a victory to assure themselves a spot in the NCAAT.
UNC leads the ACC in free throws made and attempts. They also lead the ACC in total rebounding and 3rd in offensive rebounding.
The Tarheels boast a quartet of double-digit scorers led by junior guard Caleb Love. Love scores at a 16.9 point a game clip for the Heels. Love’s backcourt mate RJ Davis leads the team in assists at 3.3 per game and scores just under 16 points (15.8) points per game. Senior forward Armando Bacot leads the team in rebounding at 10.8 per game, he scores at a 16.5 point per game average. Bacot is the only player in the ACC in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. He is first in rebounding, fifth in field goal shooting and eighth in scoring. The Richmond, Va., native also leads the league in offensive rebounds and double-doubles.
Duke Blue Devils
G Jeremy Roach 6’2, 180lbs Jr.
G Tyrese Proctor 6’5 175lbs Fr.
F Mark Mitchell 6’8, 220lbs Fr.
F Kyle Filipowski 7’0, 230lbs Fr.
F Dereck Lively 7’1, 230lbs Fr.
North Carolina Tar Heels
G RJ Davis 6’0, 175lbs Jr.
G Caleb Love 6’4, 200lbs Sr.
F Leaky Black 6’9, 205lbs Gr.
F Armando Bacot 6’11, 235lbs Sr.
F Pete Nance 6’11, 230lbs Gr.
HEAD COACH JON SCHEYER
On how different Duke’s defensive approach is for UNC’s Armando Bacot compared to NC State’s DJ Burns:
“They’re different players, they’re different teams. I think the main thing is you want to fight them early and make it hard for him to catch, but he does a really good job carving out space. Both of them do. Burns and Bacot. But they do a great job of, one, [UNC has] been shooting the ball really well. So, you have to be alert of their shooting. But then two, they have pretty good spacing around them. So, you just battle them and make it difficult but neither one of those guys are you going to shut out. They’re too good and they’re gonna get theirs to a certain degree, but you do need to fight them early and make life as difficult as possible.”
On what differences he sees for North Carolina since the first game this season:
“Well, I just think they’re probably playing with the most confidence they’ve had and winning three games in a row, two on the road, they’re just playing really good basketball. Those other guys are stepping up too. [Pete] Nance has had some really good games, [Leaky] Black and different guys off the bench have come in and scored and so it’s not like you can just key in on one or two guys. They have a team full of players that can step up and score and pass and that’s what I’ve seen. Obviously, [Armando] Bacot and [RJ] Davis and [Caleb] Love, those guys have done it for a long time. But the support around them has been really good and much improved.”
On if he thinks this is the best Duke has played all season:
“Probably is yeah, probably is the best that we’ve played. It’s just a combination of doing it on both ends. Our defense, all year long, I feel has been there. But it’s been at a higher level, just understanding rotations, playing pick and roll defense, defending, protecting our rim. And then offensively, the connectivity we have, just the way we’re sharing the ball and moving it, that’s something we’re gonna need to need to do tomorrow, need to do postseason play. So, I’m proud of how we’ve done on both ends. And throughout the year, our defense for the most part, our offense has been a little bit up and down, it’s probably the most consistent that we’ve been on both ends.”
On how Duke can keep the defense poised in a hostile environment on Saturday night:
“Really it’s being who we are. It doesn’t matter where the game is played or whether it’s neutral, on the road, at home. Let’s be Duke. Let’s be who we are, who we’ve been and can’t take our foot off the gas. Keep our foot on the gas, keep going, compete, defend and play together. That’s been the recipe for us. It’s no different tomorrow night and it’s no different going forward.”
On how he sees Dariq Whitehead fit into the gameplan after the freshman missed the first UNC game:
“Having Dariq is a huge thing for us. We just didn’t have as much of the depth in that game against them the first time but Dariq’s, the way he can shoot the ball and score, his versatility on defense, he’s just a key player for us. And he’s still coming on. We still think he’s, we were talking yesterday, March is gonna be a special month for him. And having him is a huge difference for our team.”
On how the team chemistry has improved recently and how important player leadership is:
“Yeah, team leadership, player led leadership I should say, is the most important thing. I’ve learned that through my years playing, coaching, when it comes from them, and I just I still go back to the meeting that they had after we lost to Miami. I still don’t know what was said to this day, but I know they were in there for a long time. And they’re the ones who initiated it. And when that happens, not surprised, you look at the results since that game. I credit them. I credit Jeremy [Roach] because he’s had adversity too with his toe injury and thought he put some pressure on himself early in the year. And he’s just really found his groove and found his role of being that guy that people look to. We need him to keep doing it though. Need him to keep doing it. Proud of him though for getting to this point.”
On what coaching at North Carolina for the first time is going to be like:
“I don’t know what it’s gonna be like. For me, the whole year I’ve tried to focus on, no matter what environment we’re playing in, no matter the magnitude of the game, just to be in the moment of what I need to do and what my job is. It allows you to just really focus in on the game, focus for your players and all the other stuff is fun. Like that’s what it’s all about. So, for me, it’s a great opportunity. Like I said, I’ve a lot of respect for them and what they’ve done. And we know it’s gonna be a tough game. We know it’s gonna be a tough environment. And that’s why you come to Duke, to play those games. That’s why you hopefully coach at Duke as well.”
JUNIOR GUARD JEREMY ROACH
On what is different about North Carolina compared to when Duke played them in February:
“I mean we know now, they’re playing the best basketball season right now. It’s gonna be a totally different team that we play tomorrow. So, it’s locking in physically and mentally on it. Just knowing that they’re not gonna be the same team. They’re gonna hit the shots that they didn’t hit here. Some calls might go our way, some calls might not, but we just got to focus on ourselves and get this last win.”
On if he’s talked to the freshman about what to expect from the environment at North Carolina:
“It’s a little different here. I mean yeah, it’s gonna be a nasty game. I love playing in their environment, the Dean Dome. It’s gonna be a great crowd. I’m just excited. I mean, definitely been talking to the guys about what to expect. Trash talking here. So, it’s gonna be a fun game.”
On what it’s been like to step up his game as of late:
“Yeah, I guess like I said before, the sense of urgency right now is at an all-time high. We knew coming into February, we had to stack some wins, so that attention to detail, the focus, was at an all-time high. And not just for me, just for everybody. The guys are locking me in, I’m locking them in. We’re talking the game and all that stuff. So, like I said, I like where we’re at right now. And I like the way we’re playing.”
FRESHMAN FORWARD KYLE FILIPOWSKI
On how he and Dereck Lively II are preparing for Armando Bacot and Pete Nance:
“Yeah, we definitely have to prepare in a different way this time compared to last time because of the way Nance has been playing. So, the same type of goals and the way we’re going to approach Bacot, and now we got to be a little more strict with Nance now that he’s playing a better game. So, there’s gonna be a lot of talking with the pick and rolls, pick and pops with Nance and Mark Mitchell’s gonna play a role in that defensively as well. And I mean, we do great when we talk on defense and switch and just communicate. So, we’ve just got to keep that up, stay physical, don’t really give them many open opportunities. That’s kind of what we’re heading for.”
On some things he can take away from his first meeting with North Carolina for Saturday’s game:
“I definitely got that vibe and feeling that it is a little more than just a game. It kind of holds more of a personal side to it. And especially with us getting the win last game, but now both of us have something more to play for even more now. I mean, we want to get a top seed in the ACC Tournament and then give us good spot going into March Madness. And they’re fighting to stay in March Madness and try to be in the best situation they can for the ACC Tournament …. They’re gonna definitely fight, they’re not gonna go down without a battle, without a doubt. Because their season is on the line tomorrow night as well. So, it’s gonna be a battle for sure.”
On how his coaches and teammates have helped him adapt to physicality throughout ACC play:
“Yeah, definitely having guys like Coach Amile [Jefferson] and Ryan [Young] on this team to give me some of their expertise and experience along the way has helped me a lot because I’ve definitely adapted to the physicality, but then I kind of adapted a little too much and would get called for a lot of offensive fouls in the post. So, the next step for them was to teach me how to get around that and to use all of my abilities that I have, whether it’s facing up or shooting, going over the top and shooting over them, things like that. So, they’ve definitely helped me in my mindset to approaching the game where the type of player I am, I have more things in my, more resources I can use to score the ball around the hoop than I usually do, with just like trying to go through a player. So, they’ve definitely helped my confidence in that aspect.”
This game may be the loudest and most hostile crowd the Blue Devils have faced all season long. The Tar Heels are playing for their post season lives and I expect them to come out aggressively. Bacot will most definitely be a much more aggressive Bacot in this game. Hubert Davis will attack the paint and look for open shooters. Leaky Black and Pete Nance in the short corners will be the looks most preferable and his guards getting downhill. Duke will need to weather the storm and keep this game close. If they can go about their business and rebound the basketball and stay out of foul trouble they can win this game. Rack up a lot fouls and this one could be one for the loss column.