Yes, best half of the season.
Go back in your mind and think about all the time you considered UNC playing Duke with a healthy Ty Lawson. If you were like me you imagined Lawson getting to the basket anytime he wanted to. You could see him crossing up Duke's guard, getting to the rim and using his strength to score at will. You were convinced that if the likes of Lance Thomas ended up on Lawson after a switch it would end with Thomas chasing Lawson to the hoop. I can honestly say that the way Lawson played is exactly what we all thought it would be. It was an incredible performance that carried the Heels from a eight point deficit to a 14 point win. The mantra on the liveblog was "all day long" because Lawson got what he wanted every time down almost in the 2nd half. Mike Krzyzewski said in his postgame that Lawson "was a pro" in this game. If he keep that level of play then I am not sure UNC is beatable.
Before Lawson got it going, the story of the game was the play of Deon Thompson and Bobby Frasor who were the offense for most of the first half. Earlier this week I said there would come a time when Frasor would finally knock down some shots at a crucial juncture and this was that game. Thompson came out on fire and provided some big points early on when the Big Four were struggling. Roy pointed out that it was 19 points in the first half they do not normally get and it would have been trouble without that production.
The other major factor was the here, then gone, then here defense from the Heels. UNC came out with plenty of good defense to start the game. After building an 11 point lead the defense slipped...badly. Actually I cannot use the words that described the Heels defense in the final 10 minutes of the half. It was horrid. Duke had open looks and made them. The end result was 52 points for an offense who only scored 19 in the first half against Miami on Saturday. Duke shot a blistering 63% which is part hot shooting and part defense which could not stop the over-40 championship team at the local YMCA. Then came the 2nd half and after what I am sure was some passionate encouragement from Roy Williams, the Heels found their legs on defense locking the Blue Devils down. Duke followed up their first half shooting with an anemic 32% shooting in the second stanza. The Heels captalized with a 14-0 run to salt the game way on their way to dropping 101 points on the 2nd ranked defense in the country.
Heading into this one I said the key would be the Heels ability to score on the Duke defense. They did that and then some in the 2nd half but the Heels' defense was almost as crucial in the 2nd half considering what Duke was doing on the offensive end. In other words the 2nd half was a complete game from the Heels, something along the lines of what we saw in the Michigan State game. It begins and ends with Ty Lawson. If he controls the game, the rest of the pieces fall in place. It was a performance over a year in the making and Lawson did not disappoint.
Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green walk away from Cameron for the fourth and final time just like the previous three: winners. Not to be forgotten is the fact the 2009 class of Lawson, Ellington and Thompson are 3-0 as well. Nothing is sweeter than sending a group of fans home with realization they just spent a month living in tents to come away with absolutely nothing.