Behind another poor shooting performance from distance, the North Carolina men’s basketball team (19-12, 11-9 ACC) fell to the Duke Blue Devils (23-8, 14-6 ACC), 62-57, Saturday night at the Dean E. Smith Center.
Both teams went scoreless for the first 100 seconds of play, as first-year center Dereck Lively II asserted his inside presence with two early blocks. Senior center Armando Bacot opened up UNC’s scoring attack with a two-hand slam off a pick-and-roll action. Moments later, graduate wing Leaky Black would rattle home a mid range bucket to help the Tar Heels take a three-point advantage into the first media stoppage.
First-year guard Tyrese Proctor would give the Blue Devils their first lead of the game with a pull up jumper. A Jeremy Roach corner 3-pointer shortly after would give Duke an 11-9 lead.
RJ Davis would find his groove midway through the first half. The senior guard would drill a wing triple and a right-hand floater on consecutive possessions to inch North Carolina within one point.
UNC would tie the game up at 23 behind a completed and-one play by junior guard Caleb Love. But Duke would answer quickly, as a pair inside buckets by Dariq Whitehead and Kyle Filipowski would give the Blue Devils a five-point cushion.
North Carolina would gain ground, however, as a last-second putback from Bacot was counted after Filipowski committed basket inference. At the break, the Tar Heels trailed, 33-31.
Out of the break, UNC’s cold shooting from beyond the arc continued, as the Tar Heels misfired on a trio of open attempts before the under-16 timeout. Meanwhile, Duke continued to crash the offensive glass and Filipowski’s putback dunk over a pair of Tar Heels stretched the Blue Devils’ lead to six.
At the 13:45 mark of the second half, a Love layup gave North Carolina its first field of the second half. Love’s connection would open up a previously stagnant offense and a Davis wing triple would knot the game up at 43.
North Carolina would retake the lead after Davis and graduate forward Pete Nance delivered a pair of treys. But Filipowski would respond with a 3-pointer of his own to help Duke take a late lead, 52-51.
Duke would extend its lead in the final minute of play, as a pair of Filipowski free throws and a Roach layup gave the Blue Devils a three-point advantage with under 45 seconds remaining.
North Carolina would fail to score in the final minute, and a Filipowski lay up late helped the Blue Devils prevail, 62-57.
Who stood out?
Davis added another stellar outing to his already impressive junior campaign. The White Plains, N.Y. native delivered timely 3-pointers and found his spots at an efficient rate en route to tallying 17 points.
For the Blue Devils, Filipowski responded to a poor outing against North Carolina in February. The former McDonald’s All-American flashed his ability to stretch the floor — as well as his calculated footwork — and led the Blue Devils with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
When was it decided?
Both teams exchanged shooting droughts in the first half, and the Blue Devils only led by a bucket at the half.
The second half had similar scoring woes from both teams and remained gridlocked until the final minute. Filipowski’s late free throws and transition lay iced away the win for the Devils
Why does it matter?
The defeat effectively ends North Carolina hopes of earning an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. With UNC currently holding just a single Quad One win to date, a run in the conference tournament next week is likely the Tar Heels only hope of playing in the big dance.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels have earned a one-game bye in the ACC tournament and will await their official seeding in Greensboro. North Carolina’s quest for a conference title will begin on Wednesday.
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