DURHAM, N.C. — Just when the storybook ending seemed inevitable, the Tar Heels decided to craft their own epic.
In UNC’s shocking 94-81 win over No. 4 Duke on Saturday, perhaps the final margin suggests complete dominance from a side looking to avenge an embarrassing defeat just 28 days earlier.
Instead, the game was arguably won in a span of four minutes, when UNC went on a 14-4 run the team would never relinquish.
“We knew they were going to come in fired up, but all week our main thing was thinking we were either going to win the fight or win the game,” junior forward Armando Bacot said.
As former Duke players, celebrities and thousands that parted ways with a fraction of their life savings to watch Mike Krzyzewski — you know, the guy with the most wins in the history of the sport — coach his last home basketball game, each timely Blue Devil bucket provoked a collective sigh of relief inside the hallowed annals of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
When AJ Griffin, one of the several future NBA players at Krzyzewski’s disposal and star of the previous matchup, nailed a three to give Duke a five-point lead over North Carolina with 10:32 remaining, the Blue Devils were prepared to deliver the knockout punch and get the party started.
But to those wearing the lighter shade of blue, the war — not the celebration — had only just begun.
“We had to plant our feet, we had to stand our ground and we had to fight,” head coach Hubert Davis said. “If we did those three things, it would put us in a position to do something not a lot of people expected us to do.”
As warm air, and of course, hostility, beamed down on the court named after his legendary adversary, North Carolina’s first-year coach assembled his artillery of choice. In the second half, the five Tar Heel starters played all 20 minutes, fatigue be damned.