UNC takes down Duke at its own game, 82-78

Joe Giglio, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Basketball

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Turns out North Carolina is better at playing Duke's game than Duke is theirs.

With a free-flowing guard-based attack and a steady diet of 3-pointers, No. 21 UNC took the first meeting of the season between the Triangle rivals.

Senior Joel Berry scored 21 points to lead the Tar Heels to an 82-78 win over No. 9 Duke on Thursday night at the Smith Center.

The season has been marked by a switch in traditional styles between the rivals.

UNC (18-7, 7-5 ACC) has become the guard-based team while Duke has relied on its talented big men.

Duke (19-5, 7-4) had its way inside in the first half but UNC used a blitz at the start of the second half to pick up its biggest win of the season.

Junior guard Kenny Williams (20 points) made six 3-pointers and UNC finished with 11 3s. It was the first time since 2004, a span of 28 games, that the Heels outscored Duke from the 3-point line.

UNC used a 16-2 run to start the second half to take control of the game.

Down 49-45 at the half, the Tar Heels blasted out of the halftime gate to take a 61-51 lead after a layup by Williams at 15:49. Williams and Berry both made 3s during the run but other five baskets came in the teeth of the Duke defense.

UNC was up 72-62 with 9:28 left before Duke made it interesting and had the ball down 74-71 with 3:30 left but Gary Trent (16 points) missed an open corner 3.

With the window open to put the Devils away, Cam Johnson made a 3-pointer on UNC's next trip and Berry made a pair of free throws with 2:29 left to push UNC's margin back to 79-71.

With the ACC regular-season all but out of reach and both teams out of sorts, there wasn't as much anticipation for this game as usual.

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But that didn't matter on Thursday at the Smith Center. It never does when these teams get together.

The Blue Devils opened up by going inside and playing loose. They looked like a different team than the one that was upset by St. John's last Saturday.

With reserve forward Marques Bolden scoring inside and Trent knocking down outside shots, the Devils led by as many as 12 in the first half. A 3-pointer by Wendell Carter at 6:30 gave them a 40-28 advantage.

But UNC kept it close. Johnson, who scored 32 points in last week's loss at Clemson, had 13 points in the first half and Williams added 12.

Williams made four of his first five 3-pointers and UNC finished the half 7 of 16 from behind the line.

Duke never could exploit its advantage inside in the second half with Marvin Bagley scoring 15 points and Carter being held to 10.

UNC, meanwhile, showed the Blue Devils they could beat them at their own game.

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