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North Carolina gets its swagger back, takes down slumping rival Duke


Theo Pinson raced down the court, took a pass from Cameron Johnson and had a highlight dunk that capped North Carolina’s first significant basketball win in a while.

It also silenced Duke’s players, who could do nothing but look stunned Thursday night.

North Carolina gets its swagger back, takes down slumping rival Duke



Kenny Williams found his rhythm early on from 3-point range, and No. 21 North Carolina relied on its defense down the stretch to pull away for an 82-78 win over ninth-ranked Duke in Chapel Hill, N.C.


Joel Berry II hit a free throw with 33.3 seconds remaining. The Tar Heels’ experienced point guard then hurled the ball into the air after the final buzzer sounded on the 246th meeting between the two basketball powers during their storied rivalry.

Berry scored a game-high 21 points, Williams hit six 3-pointers to finish with 20 points and North Carolina (18-7, 7-5) held high-powered Duke (19-5, 7-4) to just 29 points in the second half.

Freshman phenom Marvin Bagley III threw down a two-handed dunk to get the Blue Devils within 79-75 with 34.5 seconds remaining. But Williams came up with a steal soon afterward to help hand Duke its second consecutive loss.
Kenny Williams’ breakout

Williams wasn’t expected to be a significant factor in Thursday’s game considering how much the junior has struggled lately.

But then his outside shots starting falling.

Williams drained 4 of his first five 3-point attempts, scoring 12 of North Carolina’s first 19 points. His fast start was evident during a 90-second stretch midway through the first half when he hit three 3-pointers to tie the score at 19-19.

Williams had 12 points in the first half. Before scoring 15 points in last week’s win over Pitt, he had four consecutive games in which he didn’t score more than 6 points in a game.

The junior continued his hot streak in the second half, draining another 3-pointer and hitting a layup during the Tar Heels’ 12-0 run that allowed them to take their largest lead at 61-51.

Williams entered the week averaging 11.1 points per game, but he was more effective against Duke. He finished 7-for-15 shooting, including 6 of 12 on 3-pointers.
Marvin Bagley III’s dominance

Bagley, the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder, had gone two consecutive games without recording a double-double.

He seemed determined to snap that streak.

If anything, Bagley had looked past getting a double-double against North Carolina and instead was working on a triple-double. He finished with 15 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists.


He also avoids committing a foul during the game.

Bagley scored Duke’s first points on a dunk, and it quickly became apparent that he’d be able to use his size and athleticism to make plays around the basket.

The freshman big man nearly had a double-double in the first half with 9 points and nine rebounds, including three offensive boards. But he didn’t get much help.

Only four Duke players scored in double figures, and fellow big man Wendell Carter Jr. had a relatively quiet night with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Avoiding turnovers

Duke and North Carolina have each struggled at times this season with committing turnovers.


The Blue Devils committed 18 turnovers in last week’s shocking 81-77 loss to St. John’s in Madison Square Garden.

The Tar Heels, meanwhile, had double-digit turnovers in each of their three consecutive losses in late January.

However, both teams were careful with the basketball when they finally faced each other.

North Carolina surprisingly committed only 2 turnovers, both by forward Theo Pinson. The Tar Heels had only 1 turnover in the first half, not giving Duke the opportunity to take advantage of careless mistakes.

Duke, meanwhile, limited its turnovers to 8 despite point guard Trevon Duval committing 4 of them.


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