UNC vs. Duke: 9 Emotions UNC Fans Felt


Feb 18, 2015; Durham, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Kennedy Meeks (3) gets tangled up with Duke Blue Devils guard Tyus Jones (5) and center Jahlil Okafor (15) as they go for a loose ball near the end of regulation play in their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Even the morning after, this loss still stings. The North Carolina Tar Heels fell to the Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday night by a final score 92 to 90. Quinn Cook had 22 points for the Blue Devils in the winning effort.

Let’s go back and explore some of the emotions that Tar Heel fans were feeling last night, starting with 2:41 left in the second half of the game.

2:41 — UNC 79, Duke 70 — Nervous Joy

Nine point lead with 2:41 to go? Okay, maybe UNC can do this. They just have to finish.

UNC fans were feeling pretty good here, but 2 minutes and 41 seconds is a lot of time. I think a sort of nervous joy describes the feeling here.

2:24 — UNC 79, Duke 72 — Doubt

Pretty quickly, the doubt started to creep in. Justice Winslow scored on a dunk to cut the lead to seven at this point in time, and this emotion quickly crossed UNC fans minds. Fans were still confident in the Tar Heels to win, but the doubt just was creeping into the back of your mind. Not nervous yet, just hanging on the edge of your chair, hoping the clock would speed up.

1:22 — UNC 79, Duke 74 — Getting a little nervous

Nate Britt missed a free throw here when UNC was up five, and at this point, fans are shifting in their seats, looking around nervously and checking their phone six times a minute.

I remember for the Nate Britt free throw here, I said out loud something to the effect of “Nate Britt is a good free throw shooter,” then, immediately realizing what I had done, I went to go knock on wood so I didn’t jinx the free throw. I reached for the table, but I ended up knocking on glass instead of wood. Britt missed and I take full responsibility for him missing that free throw.

0:46 — UNC 81, Duke 76 — Feeling pretty darn good

This was right after Brice Johnson drained two free throws to put UNC up five with 46 seconds to go. You have to feel pretty good, because Brice Johnson is a terrible free throw shooter and he drained those two.

If Brice Johnson is hitting his free throws, this must be UNC’s night. This feeling only lasted like 15 seconds of real time, because of Tyus Jones.

0:29 — UNC 81, Duke 81 — Full on meltdown

Gosh darn Tyus Jones scored the last five points, including this lay-up to tie it up.

Now the anger, the remote throwing, the NSFW language may be spewing a bit.

You would have been 60 times as mad if you caught what a lot of people saw after the game, and what you can see on the GIF above — #12 on Duke grabbed J.P. Tokoto, allowing Jones a free run at the basket. That is a clear foul, but the officials missed it, and Duke got a really easy look in a key moment of the game as a result. I remember thinking that the lay-up was way too easy, but I didn’t see the hold until after.

Either way, UNC fans were pretty angry at this point in time. UNC had blown a nine-point lead in the span of 132 seconds.

0:21 — UNC 81, Duke 81 — A hint of hope

Pretty much my exact thinking at this point of the game was something like, “Hey, we have the ball with 21 seconds left, we could win it right here! Marcus?”

The entire game, I was calling Marcus Paige and he just wouldn’t pick up. He was letting my calls go to the answering machine. I will have more on Marcus later, but I was a bit disappointed in his play. This was his moment, but unfortunately, he just didn’t have enough in the tank last night to get something done.

UNC fans had to see just a bit of light at the end of the tunnel here. During the timeout, Carolina fans were feeling alright.

0:05 — UNC 81, Duke 81 — Numbness, emptiness

No anger, just emptiness. Maybe some anger at the last shot, but not at the situation. It felt like this was destiny.

Overtime. No UNC fan wanted to go to overtime. Even though UNC had more depth, Duke just wasn’t going to lose in overtime at home in front of those fans.

Fans hadn’t heard this song before, but this was from the same album as a couple of UNC’s other close losses both to Duke and to other opponents this season.

Overtime, 3:03 — UNC 87, Duke 84 — Impressed? maybe, or just cautiously hopeful

I know I was impressed when UNC jumped out to a three-point lead with 3:03 to go. I wasn’t impressed because I was thinking, “Wow, UNC is going to win this,” I was more impressed that UNC had the toughness to bounce back from the tough last three minutes of regulation to compete with Duke in OT.

3 minutes is a lot of time, but the thought jumped back into UNC fan’s heads a bit that maybe UNC could pull this out.

Overtime, 0:31 — UNC 89, Duke 90 — A Roller Coaster of up and down emotions

Quinn Cook was at the line after Nate Britt had fouled him. Quinn Cook hadn’t missed all night, so fans were expecting him to can both of these. He makes the first, but misses the second, opening up a huge window of opportunity for the Tar Heels.  If you can bear it, the final possession with Tokoto missing that jumper is below…

Everyone’s blood pressure was rising so much over the course of that possession. I know I was screaming to get the ball to Marcus, and then I had no idea what Isaiah Hicks was doing, acting like he stepped on bubble gum and was stuck to the floor, and then I knew Tokoto’s shot wasn’t going in. That just isn’t his shot.

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This was probably the angriest UNC fans got at their own team last night. UNC had a great chance to do something with the shot clock turned off and the ball, but UNC was so confused that they couldn’t find the right shot and Tokoto ended up forcing a jumper which he never should have taken.

Fans probably felt angry here at the team and maybe at Roy for not calling time out. Even though that wasn’t the end of the game, this felt like the end, especially with Quinn Cook on the line.

This was also the point that it really set in that UNC was going to lose after being up nine with 2:41 left. Oh, that was a painful realization.


There was a glimmer of hope at the end with Nate Britt at the line, but at that point I was too crushed to really believe UNC could pull off that play and tie it up.

The good news, UNC fans? UNC and Duke play on March 7th, this time in Chapel Hill. Mark your calendars.