Reflecting on the past decade of North Carolina's athletics is no small task. The 2010s saw UNC take home nine NCAA championships across seven programs.
As we take a stroll down memory lane, it's important to stop along the way to reflect on noteworthy victories over North Carolina's biggest rival: Duke.
Mar 5, 2011: UNC men’s basketball kicks off decade with unexpected thrashing of Duke
UNC’s first big win over the Blue Devils of the decade was also one of the most unlikely.
The Tar Heels were in the thick of the NCAA academic scandal and coming off a 2009-10 season in which they missed out on the NCAA tournament and were relegated to the NIT.
On top of that, UNC lost the likes of Deon Thompson, Marcus Ginyard, and Ed Davis to the draft, while the Wear twins, Travis and David, jumped ship to join UCLA in the offseason.
On the opposite end of the spectrum rested No. 4 Duke.
The Blue Devils were coming off a national championship in 2010 and had just landed the top recruit in the nation in Kyrie Irving.
Despite a strong 2010-11 regular season in which UNC fought to stay atop the ACC, some pundits and disgruntled fans felt as if the Tar Heels were losing their edge after the lackluster 2009-10 campaign. It was an anxious period for North Carolina fans that left a myriad of questions regarding the future competitiveness of the rivalry.
But when Duke came to the Smith Center on Mar. 5, all those questions were answered.
Kendall Marshall, the team's newly appointed floor general, posted a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists, proving to Williams that he’d found his point guard of the future. First-year Harrison Barnes poured in 18 points, while John Henson and Tyler Zeller stood tall on defense, holding six of eight Duke players to single-digit points. The Tar Heels cruised to an 81-67 victory and claimed the regular season conference championship on their home court.
Sept. 28, 2012: Men’s soccer storms back to beat the Blue Devils
The early 2010s were a golden era for the UNC men’s soccer team, with the program securing its second-ever national championship in 2011.
However, North Carolina's most impressive victory over Duke came a year later, when the Tar Heels' championship swagger carried them to a stunning comeback over the Blue Devils.
With less than four minutes remaining in the match, UNC found itself down 1-0 after dominating the time of possession and shots on goal.
Four yellow cards that saw two members of the Duke defense ejected from the match left UNC with an advantage as the team tried to conjure some late magic.
After holding the Tar Heel offense at bay for most of the game, the levees broke for the Duke backline in the 87th minute.
Cameron Brown powered home a goal to even the score in the waning minutes, sending the match into overtime.
Just two minutes into the first overtime period, senior Jordan Gafa placed an exclamation mark on the comeback effort to propel UNC to a 2-1 victory. Those two goals in a span of just over five minutes will be forever cemented in the UNC-Duke men's soccer rivalry.
Nov. 7, 2015: UNC football stomps Duke, 66-31
After losing to South Carolina in their first game of the season, quarterback Marquise Williams and head coach Larry Fedora were in the midst of an 11-game win streak on their way to the ACC Championship game.
In what more closely resembled a basketball blowout, the Tar Heels demolished the Blue Devils, 66-31, behind a monster day from the UNC offense. Williams finished the day with five total touchdowns and 494 passing yards, running back Elijah Hood punched in three touchdowns and Mack Hollins racked up 165 receiving yards and a touchdown as well.
In the first year of the College Football Playoff, this game started to raise the question of whether or not Fedora's team should be mentioned in the national title conversation.
While North Carolina eventually fell to Clemson in the ACC title game — dashing the team's hopes of a national championship — this dismantling of Duke is most certainly a high point for a UNC football program that has been through its fair share of ups and downs throughout the decade.
Apr. 1, 2016: Men’s lacrosse beats Duke in a season-changing thriller
When the UNC men’s lacrosse team entered its midseason matchup against Duke in 2016, the program's postseason hopes were already hanging in the balance. The Tar Heels had a 5-4 record and were recovering from surprising losses to Hofstra and UMass. The team needed to pick up a quality conference win in Durham to ensure its resume was strong enough to make the NCAA tournament.
UNC led 8-6 at half, but then allowed Duke to storm back and score 5 unanswered goals to take an 11-8 lead. The action went back and forth all the way down to the final minute, in which the two rivals found themselves tied at 16 after Duke slipped in the game-tying goal with eight seconds left.
However, the Tar Heels stood strong in the sudden death overtime with their postseason hopes on the line. A big save from first-year Colin Reder allowed UNC to reverse the field and feed senior midfielder Patrick Kelly for the game winner in OT.
The ramifications of this rivalry win went beyond the regular season, as this win helped bolster UNC’s season enough to grant it a bid to the NCAA tournament. From there, the Tar Heels ran the table to capture the program’s fifth national championship.
Jan. 21, 2018: Paris Kea drops 36 to give women’s basketball the OT win
It can be said that rivalry games can either make or break you. The former can certainly be said for North Carolina women’s basketball star Paris Kea.
The unranked Tar Heels entered their 2018 matchup against No. 15 Duke knowing that they needed to rely on Kea to carry the offensive load. What they didn’t expect was a career-high 36 point offensive explosion from the junior. She was lights out all game, shooting 15-23 from the field and 5-9 from beyond the arc.
Of those 15 buckets, two came when her team needed them most.
Down 71-67 with 16 seconds left, Kea pulled up from midrange to bring the Tar Heels within two. After a free throw put the Blue Devils up 72-69, she hit the shot of her career. With less than two seconds on the clock, Kea splashed a 3-pointer in a defender's face to send the game to overtime.
From there, the electricity in Carmichael Arena helped carry the Tar Heels to a 92-86 upset, fueled by some ice-cold shooting from Kea.
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