UNC students and local residents ran to Franklin Street to celebrate the Tar Heels' 82-78 victory over Duke. People rushed out of Top of the Hill Distillery, residences and the Smith Center to be the first to the center of Chapel Hill.
Franklin Street filled with crowds chanting “Go to hell Duke,” burning furniture, students jumping over bonfires and fireworks exploding overhead. In the midst of the crowds, first-year R.J. King said he was surprised that UNC won the game.
“This is my very first Duke game so this feels incredible,” he said. “I feel like I’ve peaked in sports.”
While some UNC students experienced their first Tar Heel victory, senior Megan Hoolahan was nostalgic about her university experience.
“It’s absolutely amazing, honestly," she said. "I was a little bit nervous going into it, but this is so incredible after going into my senior year and winning this game and coming out on top.”
Students lined up hours before the game to get a table at one of the many restaurants on Franklin Street. Brandon Long, general manager at Linda’s Bar and Grill, said their bar was packed until the last seconds of the game. As soon as the buzzer hit double zeros, he said the crowds quickly spilled into the streets.
“It was not nearly as crazy as last year’s Duke game, but it was still very passionate,” Long said. “From what I heard, it didn’t seem like people were too optimistic, although I personally was after Duke’s loss to St. John’s over the weekend. I figured our home-court advantage would do us well, and it seemed to have done the case.”
Top of the Hill bartender Sean Boston said that he had been working in Orange County for over three years and that the energy was palpable. He said the late night brewery was able to handle the "controlled chaos" that occurs inside the bar after a UNC victory.
“You can just walk in to work, and the excitement is feasible,” he said. “You can see the people on the street sort of get pumped up the night before too with all the people in town, you see the UNC fans walking down the street — it’s a lot of fun.”
At the time of publication, Chapel Hill Fire Department had reported a few small bonfires, but an overall happy crowd. Chapel Hill Police Department had not reported any arrests or injuries on Franklin Street at the time of publication.
UNC junior David Hahn said the feelings that come with beating Duke are always incredible.
“I feel great,” he said. “I didn’t expect to win tonight to be honest, and I’m psyched to be here right now, it’s such a great feeling.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.