My list of top performers will vary from other individuals. Although I have a great deal of knowledge about the North Carolina Tar Heels, this list reflects performances that I have had the pleasure of seeing with my own eyes. Also, I’m 37 years old. I wasn’t around when Lennie Rosenbluth dropped 40 points against Duke on March 1st, 1957, or when Charles Scott hit 40 points against Duke on March 8th, 1969 in Charlotte, North Carolina during the ACC Tournament. However, I was around to see the performances below. Let’s get started, shall we?
1) Danny Green (March 8th, 2008) – In my opinion, Danny Green cannot be topped in this category. Yes, I’m a little bias since he is one of my favorite Tar Heels. However, check out his stat line when No. 1 ranked North Carolina faced No. 5 ranked Duke on March 8th, 2008 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. UNC won the game 76-68. Green finished the game with 18 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks, two steals and one assist in 25 minutes of play. Green came off the bench, also. To top it off, Green posterized Greg Paulus which is arguably of the greatest dunks ever; probably, the best dunk in the North Carolina/Duke series. You can view Green’s dunk here:
2) Sean May (March 6th, 2005) – Forget what I said about Danny Green’s performance not being able to be topped. Sean May was a beast against Duke on March 6th, 2005. This game was not only Senior Day for the Tar Heels, but one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the North Carolina/Duke series. No. 1 UNC was trailing No. 7 Duke by nine points with 3:05 left in the game. Raymond Felton led a spirit-filled run for the Tar Heels. UNC won the game 75-73. May finished the game with 26 points, 24 rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 35 minutes of play. This game was one of many amazing performances from Sean May that fueled his path to becoming the Most Outstanding Player of the 2005 Final Four. You can view the comeback here:
3) Joseph Forte (February 1st, 2001) – This game marked the first time that former Tar Heel basketball player, Matt Doherty, faced Duke as North Carolina’s head coach. UNC beat Duke, 85-83. Joseph Forte stole the show during this game. UNC’s all-american, sophomore shooting guard led the Tar Heels with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists. Forte is arguably one of the best shooting guards in UNC history. This game alone should spark the conversation in many circles. Despite North Carolina beating Duke in this game, the Blue Devils won the national championship in 2001. View highlights from the game here:
4a) Antawn Jamison (February 5th, 1998) – It was February 5th, 1998. The location was the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, also known as the “Dean Dome.” The No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels faced the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils. Carolina won the game 97-73. Jamison had 23 points by the end of the first half. He finished the game 35 points and 11 rebounds. Due to Jamison’s quick release, he actually touched the basketball for a total of 35 seconds. You can view highlights from the game here:
4b) Antawn Jamison (March 2nd, 1997) – This game also took place at the Dean Dome. North Carolina beat Duke 91-85. Jamison finished the game with 33 points and 11 rebounds. His average for this season was 19 points and 9.4 rebounds. Carolina out-rebounded Duke 49-18 in this game.
5) J.R. Reid (January 21st, 1988) – I could have gone with Jerry Stackhouse, Eric Montross, Hubert Davis, or Rasheed Wallace, but J.R. Reid was “the man” when he played at North Carolina. When he was a freshman, I started getting the “box top,” or “high top face” haircut. In addition, this game took place on my 12th birthday. Duke led most of the game. Duke actually had Carolina 29-14 in the first half. Despite this, UNC beat Duke 70-69. Reid scored 14 of Carolina’s final 16 points, and finished the game with 27 points.
Anytime that North Carolina and Duke play each other, you can assure yourself that it will be a good game, despite who wins. Who are your favorite Tar Heel performers in the UNC/Duke series?