After UNC was outscored on the fast break 15-0 in the first half, the Tar Heels opened the second half by pounding the ball inside to feed Brooks and Bacot, drawing four fouls in the first three minutes.
North Carolina was able to shrink the deficit to 44-43 before a pair of threes from Justin Robinson sent Cameron Indoor Stadium into an uproar.
The two teams continued to trade blows until Bacot picked up his fourth foul with over 12 minutes remaining in the game and was sent to the bench. But despite the loss of the first-year who had 13 points and 11 rebounds in his first 20 minutes of action for what had to have felt like ages for the Tar Heels, Brooks was able to shoulder the burden of carrying the Tar Heels until the final eight minutes.
By the time Bacot returned to the game, it was too late. The Blue Devils knocked down a barrage of 3-pointers to extend their lead to 80-67 with 3:43 remaining,
Who stood out?
The combination of Brooks and Bacot were the only reason that UNC managed to hang on as long as it did. The duo combined for 39 points and 25 rebounds, led by 26 and 13 from Brooks.
Saturday's game marked the sixth game in a row that Brooks has scored at least 20 points and his fourth straight game with 25 points or more. The Tar Heels couldn't have asked for a better time for the junior's game to mature as the team prepares for the ACC Tournament next week.
When was it decided?
The Blue Devils dominated the pace of the first half and never let off the gas. North Carolina never led for the duration of the night, but it always remained within reach for the possibility of a comeback until the final five minutes.
Tre Jones, Robinson and Cassius Stanley each nailed shots from beyond the arc in a span of three minutes to propel Duke to a 13-point lead and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
Why does it matter?
No matter the result of Saturday's game, the Tar Heels would have been playing the first round of the ACC Tournament next week, forcing them to conquer the gauntlet of five games in five days to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
A deflating loss to the Blue Devils right before the tournament means that UNC will have to have a quick memory before playing as the No. 14 seed.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will play Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament to open the team's postseason play on Tuesday.
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org