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The Daily Tar Heel

Duke edges out the Tar Heels by two points in overtime

UNC forward Kennedy Meeks (3) scored 18 points against the Blue Devils.

UNC forward Kennedy Meeks (3) scored 18 points against the Blue Devils.

This was No. 15 North Carolina at No. 4 Duke, the game that won’t soon be forgotten. There were runs, there was overtime. And then there was heartbreak for UNC.

“It’s certainly been hype the last couple days. If you just care about college basketball, you had to enjoy that part of it,” said UNC coach Roy Williams after his team lost to Duke 92-90 in overtime.

The Blue Devils (23-3, 10-3 ACC) exploded to a quick start on their home hardwood, taking an early 15-6 lead just over four minutes into the game behind the hot stroke of guard Quinn Cook. Cook drained five 3-pointers in the first half for 15 points, part of his 22 total points.

But as quickly as Duke went ahead, the momentum shifted. Back and forth it went. UNC (18-8, 8-5 ACC) would pull it to within six, Duke would go up 13. The Tar Heels would take a nine point advantage, and Duke would tie it with 27 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

“For the most part I really, really enjoyed the toughness and poise of my team,” Williams said. “Yes, we missed some free throws and missed some wide open shots ... but it’s college basketball.”

The Blue Devils sealed the deal in overtime when UNC brought the ball down the court for the second-to-last time of the night. With junior guard Marcus Paige guarded so tightly he fell, the Tar Heels scrambled to get a shot off, one that clanked off the rim moments after J.P. Tokoto’s release. Duke, up two, came down with the rebound with eight seconds left, forcing Nate Britt to foul.

Just as Duke guard Tyus Jones flashed his Duke jersey to the Cameron Crazies, North Carolina guard Joel Berry tucked his face inside of his UNC one. Kennedy Meeks stood frustrated, hands on his head.

“Heartbroken,” junior forward Brice Johnson said. “We thought we did the little things to get the win, but we didn’t.”

As Britt stood on the free throw line for the final play of the game, after he was fouled by Matt Jones, UNC had one last chance to make something happen. If Britt made the first, which he did, and missed the second, UNC could force double overtime with a tip-in. Paige nearly had it.

“I was probably a split second away from being able to catch it and shoot it because I almost got both hands on the ball,” he said. “It was exactly what we wanted. It just didn’t work out.”

But Williams still found a reason to believe.

“I am really proud of my team,” he said. “Some guys grew up tonight, and some other guys gotta grow up tonight. It’s a marathon. In this league, it’s a tough marathon.”

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