The North Carolina Tar Heels have a long and storied rivalry with the Duke Blue Devils. In tonight’s chapter of the Tobacco Road battles, the Tar Heels reigned supreme, winning 74-66 in comeback and thrilling fashion. After having zero points at halftime, Marcus Paige led the Tar Heels with clutch shot after clutch shot, and finished with 13 key points. Leslie McDonald chipped in 21 as the Tar Heels moved to 18-7 and 8-4 in the ACC.
The game was a back and forth affair from the beginning, as Carolina jumped out to an early lead but surrendered if after some clutch shots from Rodney Hood. Hood would finish with 16 points in the losing effort. At the half, Duke had the seven point advantage, 37-30.
But the game was far from over, as UNC crawled back, tying the game and eventually taking the lead back. It was contributions from many Tar Heels, including James Michael McAdoo, who had 10 key points, Leslie McDonald, who had 21 points in a breakout performance, and JP Tokoto, who would finish with nine points. UNC held on to victory in the end after finally icing the game at the free throw line.
Duke finished shooting just 5-22 from the three point line, for an ugly 22.7%. If just a couple more of those threes had gone in, the game could have ended up very differently. Duke shot over 40% from the field on the night and just under 60% from the free throw line. The trio of Quinn Cook, who scored 17 points, Jabari Parker, 17 points, and Rodney Hood led the Blue Devils on offense.
For the Tar Heels, the defense was great, especially in the second half, while the offense was just good enough. The Heels shot 47.3% from the field, and just 20-31 from the charity stripe. But clutch shots down the stretch, coupled with key makes on free throws by Nate Britt and Marcus Paige, gave the Tar Heels the bragging rights in the rivalry until the two teams meet again next month.
Overall, it was a great win for the Tar Heels and one of the classic UNC Duke matchups that fans watching or in attendance will never forget. UNC now closes out its schedule with four winnable games and one tough matchup at Duke looming on the horizon. That game will take place on March 8th. Mark it down on your calendar now- if its anything like this game tonight, you won’t want to miss it.