There are just four minutes left in the game.
Dexter Strickland, the team’s only scholarship senior, makes a tough drive down the lane. He finds a little space in the paint and elevates to try and flip one over Mason Plumlee.
Strickland got the look he wanted but like so many of the North Carolina men’s basketball team’s shots on Saturday night, it clanked off the iron. Duke went the other way and scored at the buzzer of the shot clock to stretch the lead back out to 18 points and effectively eliminate any of the dwindling hope left of a Tar Heel run.
“They made all their shots early and we didn’t make very many shots,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “One of the characteristics of this team the last three weeks is that we’ve made shots.
“Duke’s defense was stronger than our offense tonight and Duke’s offense was stronger than our defense.”
The Tar Heels connected on just 34 percent of their shots in the 69-53 loss to Duke and it was even worse from beyond the arc. Only one of North Carolina’s 14 3-point attempts went through the net for a season-low percentage of seven.
“We were just out of sync,” James Michael McAdoo said. “Not really playing our game, trying to attack, just not doing what we’ve been doing the last couple of games – just out of sync.”
McAdoo was the leading Tar Heel scorer with 15 points and he connected on a handful of mid-range jumpers. But the rest of the Tar Heels fought a losing batter against a determined Blue Devil defense.
P.J. Hairston was close behind with 14 but he needed 12 field goal attempts and five made free throws to get there. Hairston was just one-for-six from deep.