The North Carolina Tar Heels claimed a share of the ACC regular season championship Saturday night when they defeated Duke 79-70 on Senior Night in Chapel Hill. It was a game much closer than the one in Durham where the Tar Heels never trailed, but a senior and a freshman managed to do everything necessary to complete the regular season sweep of the Blue Devils.
Coby White led the way for UNC with 21 points on the back of four three-pointers. White really struggled in the team’s first game against Duke on the road, but he handled this one with a lot of maturity that should pay off down the stretch for UNC. Kenny Williams, who has struggled to find his shot all season, made his Senior Night count with four three-pointers of his own. He finished the game with 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
UNC went to the locker room at halftime down by two points. Three of the five starters had five or fewer points at that point. The seniors, in particular, came out on fire in the second half to give Carolina a much-needed boost. Cam Johnson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Luke Maye had just seven points, but he pulled down 16 boards and dished out seven assists. Even Garrison Brooks finished in double figures with 10 points.
The Tar Heels finished the game with 41% shooting from the field to Duke’s 34%. Rebounds were exactly even at 48 a piece, but UNC was able to get a small edge in paint points with 32 to Duke’s 30. It wasn’t the domination down low that UNC pulled off in Durham by any means, but the Heels made up for it with their much hotter three-point shooting.
Both teams struggled down the stretch, missing a number of shots over the final few minutes. UNC finished the game without a field goal over the final six minutes and 47 seconds. Carolina was just one for their last 13 and zero for their last nine. Duke tried to match that futility, missing 10 of their last 11 shots and going scoreless over the last 2:19.
With the win, UNC shares the regular season title with Virginia and secured the #2 seed in next weekend’s ACC Tournament in Charlotte. They’ll take on one of Louisville, Georgia Tech, or Notre Dame at 7 pm on Thursday in the quarterfinals.