Can we all agree that was no good, very bad, and that we’ll just choose to move past this one? Okay? No? I still have to recap this? Oh, fine.
In what will be Mike Krzyzewski’s last game in Chapel Hill, his Duke Blue Devils got out to a big lead early and never really looked back at the UNC Tar Heels’ attempts to make it a game, eventually shooting the Heels out of the gym and winning 87-67 for one of the biggest Duke wins in Chapel Hill in the Coach K era. A.J. Griffin continued his red-hot season with 27 points and the Heels just couldn’t keep up on either end, making a few mini-runs but never really imposing themselves.
The damage started early, with Duke going on an early 15-5 run as plenty of good UNC looks refused to fall. Armando Bacot started the game on Paolo Banchero and allowed After the under-16 timeout, things went from bad to disastrous, as Caleb Love strung together a series of bad possessions that allowed easy buckets on the other end, and the lead ballooned to 18 after just 8 minutes. A breakaway layup opportunity for R.J. Davis turning into an unforced turnover seemed to epitomize the way UNC’s looks were going. UNC fell behind by as much as 23 before punching back at all, putting together a 7-2 run in the 13th minute to go into the last 7 with some momentum. They continued to lock down on defense for the rest of the half but didn’t, perhaps, put up as much offense as they could have, and ended the half down 11, 39-28. Brady Manek was singlehandedly carrying the offensive load for the Heels, with 15 points, while Leaky Black’s defense on Banchero after Bacot’s early struggles had kept him scoreless after the first two minutes. UNC’s point guards, on the other hand, struggled mightily, going just 1/13 for 2 points with 4 assists and 4 turnovers.
If it looked like UNC was in position to make it a game entering the second half, A.J. Griffin put those thoughts to bed immediately, going on a personal 10-0 run and putting the Duke lead back up over 20. It got back to the previous highwater mark of 23 as the teams traded buckets from there, and after a backscreen lob to Mark Williams, Duke was up 53-30. UNC responded to its defensive breakdowns by going into a zone, which worked briefly, and Caleb Love found some success in the pick-and-roll game (helped by some absolutely crushing screens by Bacot) to help the Heels get back to within 16, but it wouldn’t get closer than that. Paolo Banchero started shredding the middle of the zone and from there, Duke was getting basically everything they wanted and flexing on top of it, epitomized by this tweet:
Paolo Banchero gives the 'you're small' celebration against Leaky Black— Gregory Hall (@gregoryhall_) February 6, 2022
Mark Williams gives the 'on your head' celebration on Brady Manek
Duke went into the under-8 timeout up 72-54, and it wouldn’t get prettier. Griffin made a few more tough shots to get his career high up to 27, and the Heels started to look like they were out of any fight they might have had left, fouling on several consecutive possessions and allowing the lead to balloon to 28 before a few garbage time buckets pulled the margin down a little.
Manek paced the Heels with 21 points, including 6/10 from beyond the arc. Armando Bacot added 12 and R.J. Davis had 11, and Leaky Black had 4 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks while playing stellar defense on Banchero. On the other side, after Griffin’s 27, Banchero and Wendell Moore each had 13 for the Blue Devils, who also outrebounded UNC 40-24.
There’s no way around it — this is going to be a chapter in the UNC-Duke rivalry that we won’t really want to talk about, between the large margin of victory for the road team and it having been Coach Krzyzewski’s last game coaching in Chapel Hill. The Heels, still without a Quad 1 win, will have to regroup and find ways to sharpen up particularly on the offensive end going into a road game against Clemson and then a potentially tough matchup against Florida State at home.