It was a couple days before the Blue Devils were scheduled to come into town for a Jan. 31 contest, and Lang was answering all kinds of questions on the state of the rivalry.
And then someone asked about Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"It's loud and hot," said Lang with a grin. "It's like playing in a gym in high school."
The rivalry is anything but high schoolish, with Dick Vitale and ABC and all the trappings of big-time college athletics. And this latest incarnation of the series has the Blue Devils on top and the Tar Heels scraping the bottom of the barrel of the ACC, waiting to see if they land in the play-in game.
Although the Sunday afternoon contest between Duke and North Carolina at 3:30 p.m. is the ACC season finale, the game isn't being taken as seriously as usual. The Tar Heels are 8-18 overall and 4-11 in the ACC, while the Blue Devils have just two losses overall.
"We're supposed to lose, in the eyes of everybody, I'm sure, besides our locker room," said UNC point guard Adam Boone. "We have to go out there and play with pride and play Carolina basketball. If we do those things for 40 minutes, we very well could be successful in there."
The Tar Heels are coming off a 96-78 victory against Clemson on Wednesday in which they beat the Tigers for the 48th straight time in Chapel Hill.
Jason Capel led North Carolina with a career-high 28 points and got double-digit help from Boone, Brian Bersticker, Jackie Manuel and Jawad Williams. With the win, UNC is guaranteed not to be the No. 9 seed going into the ACC Tournament in Charlotte next week.
Barring a UNC win Sunday, if Florida State tops Georgia Tech on Saturday, then North Carolina finishes eighth and faces Clemson in the play-in game. If FSU loses, UNC is the seventh seed.
Clemson is the only team North Carolina has really put away all season, but the Tar Heels still say the win can help them against the Blue Devils on Sunday.
"It's steps," Bersticker said Wednesday. "You take steps to get better every day, and today we definitely got better. So we're going to take this step and build on it the rest of this week in practice, and hopefully we'll keep on building and building until we play Duke."
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