Sheltered from the few inches of snow that had all but shut down Chapel Hill, James Michael McAdoo and Luke Davis stood on the court of an empty Dean Smith Center.
It was Feb. 12, 2014, and in routine fashion, the duo — dressed in pregame warmups — shot around, loosening up before their North Carolina team got set to take on Duke a few hours later. Except the only game McAdoo and Davis ended up playing that night was … H.O.R.S.E.?
About three hours prior to the 9 p.m. tip-off, it was officially announced: the contest was postponed because “Duke’s bus is not able to get to their campus to pick up the team,” according to UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham.
What happened eight days later, though, went down in history. The Tar Heels knocked off the Blue Devils, winning 74-66 against No. 5 Duke, just the eighth time in the rivalry's history that an unranked UNC beat Duke.
“That’s probably the loudest, craziest environment I’ve been in — home or away,” then-sophomore guard Marcus Paige said after his 13-point performance.
The victory marked the first time an unranked UNC had beaten Duke since senior night of former head coach Matt Doherty’s final year in 2003. The other years that the Tar Heels accomplished the feat were 1954, 1959, 1965 (twice) and 1990 (twice).
So, how did it all fall into place six years ago for a group that started at No. 12 in the AP poll, but saw its season nearly derailed as it lost four of its first five ACC games?
“This team was unranked by the polls, but had plenty of talent,” said Adam Lucas, a columnist for GoHeels.com. “You look at that roster on paper and you think, ‘Oh, this team’s got a chance.’”
Led by Paige, who eventually etched his name into Tar Heel lore, McAdoo and 2016 first-team All-American Brice Johnson, UNC had the firepower to compete in most of its games.