DURHAM, N.C. -- Oftentimes, it feels like UNC and Duke play in a vacuum.
Ranked or unranked, win streak or not, it is hard to consider external factors in college basketball's greatest and most competitive rivalry. But on Saturday, those factors were impossible to ignore as the North Carolina men's team ventured into Cameron Indoor Stadium hungry for a victory after dropping a home game against Pitt earlier in the week.
Unsurprisingly, Saturday's matchup was fiercely competitive. After the lead changed hands many times, Duke completely shut down the Tar Heels' offense in the final minutes of the game to come out victorious, 63-57.
Looking through the lens of the rivalry, it's a narrative that makes sense. Duke's rookie head coach Jon Scheyer left with his first win against North Carolina at home, while the Tar Heels, having played their archrival down to the wire, should have had little to hang their heads about.
"If you had told me last week we'd be up one point with like two or three minutes left, I would've took it," senior center Armando Bacot said. "I mean, it's a hard place to come in and win, especially when you're talking about Carolina versus Duke."
But for UNC, it's impossible to leave the outcome of the game in the vacuum of the rivalry.
After suffering back-to-back losses for the first time since early December, the Tar Heels' reliability concerns have returned as they stare down the home stretch of the season.
"I think the most frustrating part is, you know, we can't get a sense of consistency throughout multiple games," junior guard Caleb Love said.
Love and junior guard RJ Davis combined for 10-31 shooting against the Blue Devils, and many of those misses were on open looks. Graduate wing Leaky Black helped make up that offense with an efficient 13-point performance, but no Tar Heel could put the ball through the net in the final four minutes of regulation.