For a very large chunk of the game, Carolina kept it close. They did so despite the fact that the three-point shot that buoyed them over the last three games all but disappeared. The Heels had things as close as five points into the second half before missed shots, foul trouble, and Duke threes ultimately sank them.
It was not for a lack of effort from Garrison Brooks. The junior scored 26 points, topping the 25-point mark in each of his last four games. He was pretty much the reason that Carolina was able to keep it close as long as they did. Another reason was Armando Bacot. He scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds (six of them coming on the offensive glass). Unfortunately, Bacot was saddled with foul trouble that necessitated him riding the bench in the second half. Vernon Carey took advantage in the paint with only Brooks in his way, and things got pretty out of hand.
The Heels were able to hit just four of their 12 attempts from long distance while the Blue Devils sank 10 of their attempts. Justin Robinson and Cassius Stanley had four and three three-pointers, respectively, with Tre Jones adding another three on his way to 21 points in the game.
Another point of great contention was the disparity at the free throw line. UNC was called for 11 first half fouls while Duke was only whistled for five. The Blue Devils made 29 of their 33 free throws while the Heels only attempted 20 in the game. Things were slightly more even for the first part of the second half, but to say there were a number of outright baffling calls would be underselling it. Carolina nearly lost Robinson for the game when his face fouled the elbow of a Duke player. Brooks was also called for a foul after nearly getting his head taken off.
Bad foul calls aren’t the reason UNC lost. The free throw difference doesn’t help, but the team just didn’t look as confident as the one that has taken the floor in the prior three games. They looked pretty shaken from the start, and it didn’t help that Cole Anthony was largely kept in check by the Duke defense all night.
It was a disappointing end to a disappointing regular season. They will have to shake it off and come ready for business on Tuesday in Greensboro when they take on Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament.