Randy Dunson & Brian Horace Preview March 8, 2014Duke (23-7, 12-5) – University of North Carolina (UNC) (23-7, 13-4)

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Randy Dunson & Brian Horace Preview Duke (23-7, 12-5) – University of North Carolina (UNC) (23-7, 13-4)

March 8, 2014

Snapshot

In its final game of the regular season, Duke will host Tobacco Road rival North Carolina Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke climbed back into the Associated Press top five this week, jumping from No. 6 to No. 4 following a 66-48 win over Virginia Tech. Duke, also ranked No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, is 56-13 all-time when playing as the No. 4 team in the AP poll. The Blue Devils are attempting to close out its 18th undefeated season at Cameron Indoor Stadium and second straight. Duke has won 32 consecutive games at home, the longest streak in the country. North Carolina will be the sixth ranked team Duke has faced. Duke is 3-3 against ranked teams in 2013-14 with wins over No. 1 Syracuse, No. 18 Pittsburgh and No. 22 Michigan.

North Carolina will try to win its 13th game in a row when it wraps up the 2013-14 regular season at Duke. They are coming off a 63-61 win over Notre Dame last Monday night. The Tar Heels lead the overall series 133-104. In the first match of the “Battle of the Blues” UNC defeated Duke 74-66 on February 20 in Chapel Hill. Entering this weekend’s action, UNC and Syracuse are tied for second place in the ACC standings at 13-4, and Duke is a game back in fourth place at 12-5. Virginia is the regular season champion at 16-1. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 14 in both the Associated Press and Coaches’ polls.

UNC Season Thus Far

James Michael McAdoo hit the go-ahead shot in the lane with 3:09 left and Marcus Paige blocked Eric Atkins’ driving shot on the final play to seal UNC’s 63-61 victory over Notre Dame on Monday night, earning the Tar Heels their 12th straight victory in their last home game. While the Tar Heels have their longest winning streak since 2008-09, it marked the second time in three days they found themselves in a fight with an underdog opponent. They won 60-56 at last-place Virginia Tech on Saturday, then blew a 14-point halftime lead and had to fight to the horn to beat the Fighting Irish.Still, the Tar Heels haven’t lost since January 20 at No. 5 Virginia when they were just starting their climb from an 0-3 ACC start. James Michael McAdoo finished with 14 points to lead the Tar Heels, while J.P. Tokoto added 11. But Paige, UNC’s leading scorer who had a career-high 35 points and the last-second layup to beat North Carolina State last week, managed just seven points on 2-for-8 shooting. But Connaughton’s three-point play with 52.1 seconds left cut the deficit to a basket, then Atkins followed Paige’s first missed free throw with a driving lay-up to cut the lead to 62-61 with 8.6 seconds left. Paige made 1 of 2 free throws with 6.6 seconds left to give Notre Dame its final shot.Notre Dame shot 54 percent from the field in the second half, while the defense limited UNC to 22 points—matching the Tar Heels’ season low for a half—and just one second-chance point.

Carolina has gone 8-0 since the midway point of ACC play with one game remaining. The Tar Heels are 70-19 (.787) in the second half of ACC play in 11 seasons under head coach Roy Williams. Carolina went 8-0 in the second half of ACC play in 2007-08 and was 7-1 in the second half five times (during The Tar Heels also went 6-3 in 2012-13, 5-3 in 2003-04 and 2006-07 and 3-5 in 2009-10.Carolina is 11-0 with the starting lineup of Marcus Paige, Leslie McDonald, J.P. Tokoto, James Michael McAdoo, and Kennedy Meeks. UNC has won each of its last three games by four points:or fewer, the first time it has done so since the 1985-86:season. The Tar Heels averaged 56.3 points in their first three ACC games this year (losses to Wake Forest, Miami, and Syracuse) and have averaged 77.8 points in the last 12 ACC games (12 wins, zero losses). The Tar:Heels are 2-0 in overtime:games this year and:have won six straight overtime contests, tying the second-longest streak in school history. Since losing to Syracuse on January 11, Carolina has shot 50 percent or better from the floor in the second half in nine of the last 14 games. The win over Notre Dame was the 723rd for head coach Roy Williams. He is 20th all-time in NCAA history. Marcus Paige is the only player in the ACC in the ACC’s top six in both scoring and assists. UNC is 17-0 when leading at the half this season. Carolina is 7-0 this season when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor. The Tar Heels are 46-1 when scoring 100 points under Roy Williams and 188-19 overall when hitting triple digits. Marcus Paige scored 21 second-half points vs. N.C.State after scoring four points in the first half. That was the 16th time this season he’s had single digit points in the first half and double digits in the second half. The Tar Heels are 5-1 this year against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 (wins over No. 3 Louisville, No.1MichiganState, No.11 Kentucky, No.25 Pitt, and No. 5 Duke, and a loss at No. 2 Syracuse). Marcus Paige is shooting 88.0 percent from the free throw line, ranking second in the ACC. Paige is averaging 35.5 minutes per game this season, more than any player in the Roy Williams era at UNC. Nate Britt and James Michael McAdoo are second with six. The Tar Heels lead all teams in ACC games only in rebounds per game, rebounding margin, offensive rebound percentage, offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding,:and assists. Carolina ranks 19th in the nation in assists per game,:38th;in field:goal percentage defense, 20th in rebound margin, 19th in assists per game, 14th in total rebounds,and eighth in offensive bounds per game.

Duke Season Thus Far

Tyler Cavanaugh scored 20 points and Travis McKie added 19 to lead Wake Forest past No. 4 Duke, 82-72, Wednesday in Joel Coliseum. Wake Forest had five players score in double figures, including Codi Miller-McIntyre, who finished with 13 points, eight assists and just two turnovers. Duke led 66-59 with 5:44 remaining, but the Deacons mounted a 17-0 run to stake a 77-66 lead. Wake Forest outscored Duke 23-6 over the final 5:20 of the game as the Blue Devils hit just 2-of-10 field goals during that stretch. Duke shot just .222 (6-of-27) from three-point range for the team’s second-lowest three-point percentage of the season. Duke hit just 2-of-12 treys in the first half and 4-of-15 in the second half. Jabari Parker logged his fifth straight double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead Duke in both categories.Rodney Hood scored 16 points and dished out four assists, while Rasheed Sulaimon added 14 points.

The Blue Devils have won 32 consecutive games in Cameron Indoor Stadium, tied for the longest active streak in the country. Duke is just one win away from completing its 18th undefeated season in Cameron, owning a 16-0 record on Coach K Court in 2013-14. Duke also went 16-0 in Cameron in 2012-13. Saturday’s game will serve as senior night for Duke’s class of Andre Dawkins, Josh Hairston, Tyler Thornton, and Todd Zafirovski. Dawkins and Zafirovski were both part of Duke’s 2009-10 NCAA and ACC Championship team, while all four helped Duke capture the 2010-11 ACC Championship and posted a 112-25 record over the past four seasons. Duke has lost back-to-back games just once since the start of the 2009-10 season and is 25-1 following a loss during that span. Among Duke’s six previous victories following a loss this season are wins over No. 22 Michigan (79-69), Virginia (69-65) and No. 1 Syracuse (66-60). Duke owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.54:1, which would rank as the highest ratio since Duke began tracking turnovers in the 1970-71 season. The Blue Devils logged a school-record 1.51:1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season, bettering the previous school record of 1.32 set in 2000-01. Jabari Parker leads the ACC with 13 double-doubles and is one shy of tying Duke’s freshman record of 14 set by Gene Banks in 1977-78. Parker has nine double-doubles in his past 12 games and is averaging 16.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in conference play. He leads the ACC in rebounds per game, ranks second in points per game and third in field goal percentage (.483 – 199-of-412). Andre Dawkins needs just three points to become the 63rd Duke player to join the 1,000-point club. Dawkins is averaging a career-best 8.4 points per game this season. Marshall Plumlee is averaging 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 points and 1.8 blocks over his past four games. Plumlee has 3.5 offensive rebounds per game during that stretch. Rodney Hood has logged six of his nine 20-plus-point performances in Cameron Indoor Stadium, including a career-best 30-point outing against East Carolina on Nov. 19. Hood scored 21 against Virginia Tech in his last appearance in Cameron and averages 17.5 points per game on his home court. Only Jabari Parker has more 20-point games in Cameron this season (9).

Four Factors to Winning

Duke will have their work cut out for them, Duke will need to keep the Heels off of the offensive glass. If Duke fails to do so it will be a very long senior night. Duke will also have to force the issue and get to the line. Duke needs to shoot free throws at a much higher clip and make this game easier for them. Duke also needs to defend without fouling. Foul problems have been a common theme and has spelled disaster in several games for the Devils.

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Key Points to Consider

Duke has had a serious bad habit of offensive droughts and inefficiency. What, if anything, can the coaching staff do to curb this issue? In my opinion the problem is multi-faceted, partially guard play is to blame. Duke has not been strong with the ball as of late, whether it be teams simply just pressuring Duke into really bad turnovers, shot selection issues or not getting the ball into the paint effectively. Defensively Duke is what it is and what it is, well isn’t great. Duke will need to do a much better job of forcing turnovers because as it stands toughness isn’t something this team has shown this year. I understand the charge call and the appeal of it and Duke having a history of it, but teams at this point know you are doing it, for once I would like to see Duke be aggressive on defense, punish, stand ground and fight. March is not the time to expect to be bailed out by a charge call. Show some toughness on defense and maybe it will be contagious.

Endgame

It’s going to boil down to Duke being fundamentally sound, making the good pass, being strong with the ball…but the intangibles for Duke are always at play. As much as we want to bash and hate on UNC they are playing well and Duke is, well, it’s hard to say. The first game Duke did not match the level of intensity of Coach K or for that matter the opponent. It’s been a common theme in Duke’s ACC losses. If this team has a problem with getting after it in this game then I don’t have words for it. This is the reason you come to Duke. This is game you wait for all year long and the players that put on the uniform need to represent. Play for the banners, the past, the future but more over – the present.  We predict this team will get it’s act together because they real have no other choice. UNC will not come into Cameron with fear or trepidation, they are riding high and deservedly so. Duke is going to have to do what it did no do against UNC in the first game, or Wake Forest in the last game. FIGHT.

FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!!FIGHT!! GTHC!!! FIGHT!! GTHC!!!