Jeff Gravley

Intensity rules in 1st Duke-UNC meeting

Posted February 14, 2013

— There were MANY times Wednesday night when I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face as I sat there engulfed by the atmosphere of the greatest rivalry in college basketball. Whether it's played in Durham or Chapel Hill, it is a privilege to witness it in person.

I was sandwiched between a wooden press row and a group of high-energy students who hopped and hollered the whole night. They left remnants of blue paint on my shirt (I always wear an old one and never a coat) and they deposited heavy doses of noise into my ears. I loved every decibel of it. 

Last night drew an audience at Cameron Indoor Stadium that included Gov. Pat McCrory, who sported a smile that looked like he had just won the election. Seated a couple of rows behind the home basket were former Oklahoma Sooners head coaches Barry Switzer and Billy Tubbs. 

But the main cast of characters were the Blues Brothers. One dressed in light blue, the other trimmed in dark blue. Two hall of fame coaches conducted their bands, and it took two TV networks to cover all of the angles.

What made this such a fantastic show was the effort put forth by both teams.

It has never been about a lack of talent for North Carolina this year. They have just had a difficult time of finding consistent effort and focus. The Tar Heels had both last night, and nothing proved that more than the defensive pressure they put on Duke in the first half. Bring it like that every game and there would be no questions about their postseason destination.

Effort is rarely an issue with Duke. If you don't have it, you don't play. The Blue Devils were punched in the mouth in the first half and responded in the second like a team trying to protect their turf. An exhausted Duke team sat in their locker room after the game explaining the energy needed to win a game like this. It's a good tired if you are on the winning end. 

Seth Curry had to change shoes three times in this game because he blew out two pair. He joked it was because of his explosiveness. But there would be no blow out in this game. Duke responded to the challenge Roy Williams had hoped his team would put forth. "I want somebody to put their stupid feet down on the floor and compete," Williams said about his players in his pregame press conference.

What a perfect setting for a 66th birthday celebration for Mike Krzyzewski. He left the court after a 5-point win serenaded by "Happy Birthday." The day before the game, Coach K summed up the Duke/Carolina game the best. "This is a priceless event," he said.

Both teams played like it and provided us with a hunger to see them play again on March 9 in Chapel Hill. 


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  • StunGunn Feb 15, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Totally agree about the game not being the best. It wasn't that long ago - '08 and '09, when the games were played at such a high level by both teams, with more on the line than bragging rights. Wednesday's game may have been missing the high octane offense, but it was still a rival game, with a score a lot closer than I thought possible. You ARE lucky your parents give you and your brother those tickets - you must have had a great time. I'm looking forward to the Duke/Miami game as well as the Duke/Carolina game in the Smith Center.

  • 903 mens national championships Feb 14, 2013

    UNC at Cameron is always special. I'm spoiled because my parents have season tickets and give me one and my brother the other one every year. With 17-18 home games a year, they don't mind giving up their tickets to whatever games we want. State last Thursday was a nice warmup. Last night was good though not the best Duke/UNC game by any stretch. But I have a feeling Miami at Duke on March 2nd will be an absolute classic.

  • NCSU84 Feb 14, 2013

    View quoted thread

    UNC has to save face somehow!

  • early exit Roy Feb 14, 2013

    I just saw a clip where Adam Pink said that was a unc moral victory last night. I wish he didn't say that. There will be another banner going up in their outdated dome.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 14, 2013

    Interesting article. The game changer was when Curry hit the 3 bomb when Cook tapped it out. The 1st lead for Duke then.

  • I am not who you think I am Feb 14, 2013

    I've been lucky enough to go to many "rivalry" games around the country Ala-Auburn, Ga-GT,FL-GA, TX-OK but this is still the best year after year

  • lanecc Feb 14, 2013

    Even if these two teams were ranked last in the world, this is always an entertaining game. Bad calls, no calls, coaches yelling, students doing stupid things, and celebrity sightings. Great for the game.

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