John Henson led the Tar Heels with 14 points, and Deon Thompson chipped in with 11. But even most of those came with the game already out of reach.
Duke’s penetrating offense was at once patient and aggressive. Its unselfishness was in stark contrast to North Carolina – nobody in UNC’s starting lineup recorded an assist in the first half.
With the win, Duke completed an undefeated 17-0 season at home and clinched a share of the regular season ACC title, along with the top seed in the ACC Tournament.
“We played a full 40 minutes, and that was one of the best games we have played all year,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Right from the start, it was clear that the Blue Devils smelled blood.
“They really just jumped on us, and from the very beginning of the game they just had a great intensity about them,” said senior Marcus Ginyard, who had never lost at Duke before Sunday night.
“Anything you want to talk about, they did it tougher and they did it better.”
The numbers certainly tell the tale. UNC had just six field goals in the second half, made just one 3-pointer all night, missed nine free throws and gave up 27 points off turnovers.
Duke shot nearly 46 percent from the field, and its two starting guards combined for zero turnovers.
But the numbers don’t reveal just how disorganized and overwhelmed the Tar Heels seemed. Whether it was losing track of the shot clock right after a timeout or carelessly zinging a pass straight to the Duke bench, UNC was out of sync from tip-off to the buzzer.
And the Blue Devils were smothering on the defensive end.
“Their defense was stronger than our offense,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “Their defense was the aggressor. Their defense was the actor, and our offense reacted to what they did. They basically dominated that end of the floor.”
In the closing minutes of Senior Night, the raucous Duke crowd got its exclamation point.
With walk-ons from both teams getting ready to check in, the fans began chanting, “Our house, our house.” On cue, Smith sliced into the lane and tossed up an alley-oop to Miles Plumlee, who slammed it home and raised the decibel level through the roof.
In this rivalry, four straight North Carolina wins in Durham will be remembered for a long time. But so will a 32-point blowout. And Williams made sure his team knew it in the locker room after the game.
“He said that he doesn’t know about us, but he would remember this game for the rest of his life,” Drew said. “And if it meant anything to us, we would change. If we were any kind of competitors, we would learn from this and we would change.”