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UNC men's basketball loses to Duke in Cameron Indoor, 63-57, in first game of Scheyer era

UNC junior guard Caleb Love (2) defends Duke first-year guard Tyrese Proctor (5) during the men's basketball game against Duke on Feb. 4, 2023, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

DURHAM, N.C. -- The North Carolina men's basketball team (15-8, 7-5 ACC) fell to Duke (17-6, 8-4 ACC), 63-57, at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday evening.

What happened?

Junior guard Caleb Love drew first blood, sinking a 3-pointer from the wing on UNC's second possession, and senior center Armando Bacot added some emphasis with a put-back dunk to give the Tar Heels an early 5-0 lead.

The Blue Devils punched back though, going on a 7-2 run to tie the game headed into the first media timeout.

Bacot then came alive, nailing both free throws after drawing a foul under the basket and then laying in two easy buckets off assists from Love and junior guard RJ Davis. Meanwhile, Duke struggled to find consistent scoring as UNC defenders locked down the paint. Come the under-12 timeout, UNC led 15-11.

The Tar Heels failed to pull away though, as a dunk attempt from graduate transfer Pete Nance was blocked by Dereck Lively II, his fourth block of the game in just 12 minutes. After RJ was called for a blocking foul on a finish inside from Jacob Grandison, the grad transfer from Illinois converted the and-one to make the score 19-17, UNC.

Duke first-year forward Kyle Filipowski hit a 3-pointer to give Duke a brief lead, but Love took it right back with a dribble-drive score on the other end. Soon after, junior forward Puff Johnson hit his first shot of the game – a 3-pointer from the wing – to make it a four-point game.

The Blue Devils made the Tar Heels pay on the fast break, as breakaway buckets from Proctor and Roach gave the lead back to Duke. A 3-pointer from Proctor in the final minute of the half made the score 33-30, Duke's largest lead of the game, but Bacot hit a hook shot before the break to make it a one-point game.

Duke came out of halftime aggressive, as Filipowski nailed a midrange jumper and blocked a 3-point attempt from Nance on the other end. UNC fifth-year wing Leaky Black responded with a 3-pointer, but Proctor and Mitchell both made buckets in the paint to make the score 39-35 in favor of Duke at the under-16 timeout.

Subsequent 3-pointers from Black and Love scraped away at the lead but Duke continued to find ways to score. With 12 minutes remaining in the contest Johnson stole an errant pass from Proctor and passed it to Love who lobbed it to Bacot for a dunk. Immediately after, Love made a bucket to take a 45-44 lead.

The teams continued to play tug-of-war with the lead, and Duke held a razor thin 51-50 advantage at the under-8 timeout. That held true as the game clock ticked below five minutes, as Black nailed another 3-pointer, Roach hit a jumpshot, and Love went up-and-under to tie the game at 55 points.

With less than two minutes to play, Lively slammed home a put-back dunk to take a 59-57 lead with a minute-and-a-half to play, causing UNC to call a timeout. Black missed a chance to take back the lead with a corner 3-pointer, and another lay-in from Roach gave Duke the 4-point lead it needed to set up the victory.

Who stood out?

Bacot had a typically solid performance with a 14-point, 10-rebound double double, and Black backed him up with a productive stat line of 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Proctor and Lively stepped up for Duke in their first-ever game against Carolina. Proctor commanded the fast-break offense with 11 points and five assists, while Lively provided elite rim protection, accumulating eight blocks and adding 14 rebounds and four points.

When was it decided?

At no point in the matchup did a lead ever feel safe. With two minutes to play, the teams were deadlocked at 57 points. UNC got the stop it wanted against Filipowski down low, but Proctor came down with the offensive rebound, leading to an emphatic slam from Lively to break the tie.

Black had a good look from the corner with a chance to take a one-point lead, but his shot was short and bounced off the rim. On the other end of the court Filipowski grabbed an offensive rebound off his own miss and Duke called timeout up two points with 35 seconds remaining. After Roach scored to go up four points, all the Blue Devils had to do was hold on.

Why does it matter?

Aside from the intensity of this rivalry matchup, UNC and Duke came into this game tied for sixth place in the ACC. Unsurprisingly, it was a close contest all 40 minutes, as the Blue Devils capitalized off the fast-break and Bacot dominated down low.

Neither team shot particularly well, but players wearing both shades of blue made timely baskets throughout to keep the margin extremely small. UNC couldn't find the offense it needed down the stretch, going scoreless in the final four minutes.

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In the end, aggressive offensive rebounding gave the Blue Devils the edge it needed to come out with the win.

When do they play next?

UNC will hit the road to play in-state rival Wake Forest on Tuesday night in Winston-Salem. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m.


@dthsports |

Lucas Thomae

Lucas Thomae is the 2023-24 sports managing editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as an assistant sports editor and summer editor. Lucas is a senior pursuing a major in journalism and media with a minor in data science.