Colleges

UNC takes momentum into weekend, Duke looks to avoid skid

Posted February 21

— After Thursday night’s tilt, Duke and North Carolina each have four conferences losses on the season, but the teams have arrived there very differently. With one more meeting between the two to close the regular season, each is seeking to establish themselves among the ACC’s top teams.

Strategically on Thursday, UNC shifted to a man-to-man defense after Duke was able to grab an early lead against the Tar Heels’ zone. After that, the Blue Devils went on a nine-minute field goal drought, allowing UNC to seize the lead.

“They kept switching the defense from the 1-3-1 to man and that kind of threw us off,” said Duke guard Quinn Cook.

“They were really hurting us putting the ball on the floor and driving on us,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said. “We went zone and trap and that helped us some, but it was a bunch of kids playing their rear ends off is what it was.”

One of the game’s stand-outs was Leslie McDonald, whose nine field goals were more than he had hit in the previous four games combined. It was a fitting show for the senior in his final home game against Duke.

“It was just being able to go out there and give it my all and be in that type of environment. It means so much to me,” McDonald said. “I tip my hat to all the former players and hopefully we made them proud.”

Momentum remains with UNC. They have won eight in a row heading into Saturday’s game against Wake Forest (Noon, WRAL-TV).

“This was a big win for us and it proves to a lot people that those wins early in the season, the potential that we showed, we are starting to get there,” UNC guard Marcus Paige said. “This team can make a deep run if we keep working and we can beat any team in the country if we play to our potential.”

Against Maryland, Duke was able to overcome a poor night shooting from three-point range. That was not the case against UNC Thursday as they struggled to a 5-for-22 night from deep. It was more than just the missed shots, though, that befuddled the man on the bench for the Blue Devils.

“’It.’ We didn’t have ‘it;’ whatever the hell that thing is,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “In the second half, ‘it’ wasn’t in our huddle.”

“We didn’t get our emotions toward winning,” said freshman stand-out Jabari Parker. “I think they were more enthusiastic.”

Finding “it,” energy and enthusiasm is what Duke will focus on before hosting Syracuse at Cameron Indoor Saturday night (620 The Buzz).

Duke and Syracuse, who played one of the college basketball season’s best games in their first meeting, will each be coming off a loss when they meet Saturday. That ensures one of the nation’s top-5 teams will end the week having dropped two in a row.

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  • jdpridg Feb 22, 8:41 a.m.

    Hope both teams can pull it off. Duke needs a signature win, and how much longer til UNC gets a... View More

    — Posted by jdpridg

    Thanks, JD. IMHO, it was right that UNC wasn't ranked as they had a bad start in conference... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesArrrgh

    Hokie may have something to say about that, but here's to hoping for a triangle sweep! Cheers (raising my coffee cup).

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Feb 22, 8:22 a.m.

    Hope both teams can pull it off. Duke needs a signature win, and how much longer til UNC gets a... View More

    — Posted by jdpridg

    Thanks, JD. IMHO, it was right that UNC wasn't ranked as they had a bad start in conference play and hadn't beaten top-tier ACC team until the Duke game. I do believe they will be ranked in the new poll, but they need to take care of business in the Wake game. I believe Duke will beat Syracuse.

    Good luck with the game against VT; they've been playing better lately, so like any ACC road game, it will be a dog fight.

  • jdpridg Feb 22, 7:28 a.m.

    Hope both teams can pull it off. Duke needs a signature win, and how much longer til UNC gets a legit ranking. I believe Duke really is as good as they say they are, they just keep falling short in the biggest games. As for UNC, I know the Belmont and UAB games hurt, but come on. They have the big wins, several times over. They have the momentum and are playing top 15 ball right now.
    Good luck to both of you. State fan pulling for the triangle here.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 22, 6:30 a.m.

    Dawkins should have had the Thornton minutes. Don't know why K continues to play this guy? They went almost 9 minutes without a basket. Dawkins is your best shooter. He had five in ten minutes. Thornton had zero in twenty minutes. Who was he guarding McDonald or Paige? Both had great games in the second half. Not gonna buy that Tech game because it was a blowout. Don't use excuses you just got beat. Will that be the excuse tonight?

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Feb 22, 6:25 a.m.

    The Duke/Syracuse game will be even more interesting with both teams coming off losses. I hope the Heels don't have a letdown after beating Duke. As bad as Wake is on the road, you can't sleep against any ACC team, and I bet they're hoping to capitalize on UNC's possible post-Duke hangover. It's up to the Heels to make sure that doesn't happen.

  • mike honcho Feb 22, 3:01 a.m.

    waiting for the dookie crybabies to weigh in...Ouch, that beat down on Wed stings!

    — Posted by 123skipjack

    The way the fans rushed the court, it appears Wednesday nights game was UNC's national championship game.
    Sorry, 8 points is not a beat down.

  • 903 Hail Providence Feb 21, 10:16 p.m.

    UNC looked like they had more energy vs Duke last night. When the legs go, you can't shoot the... View More

    — Posted by vt94hokies

    "UNC beat them badly on the boards"

    "Dawkins only played 10 minutes last night. Wonder what's up with this?"

    Well, when Duke plays teams with more size, they take some minutes away from the guards and give them to Plumlee. The foul trouble for Jabari and Hood forced them to give some of Dawkins' minutes to Plumlee.

    And yes, the legs on less rest than normal between games having the trip to GA Tech on Tuesday night.

  • vt94hokies Feb 21, 8:52 p.m.

    UNC looked like they had more energy vs Duke last night. When the legs go, you can't shoot the ball. Look at the stat's. Duke shot badly from the 3 and Ft's. UNC beat them badly on the boards too. Too much practice without enough rest? Dawkins only played 10 minutes last night. Wonder what's up with this?

  • 123skipjack Feb 21, 8:42 p.m.

    waiting for the dookie crybabies to weigh in...Ouch, that beat down on Wed stings!

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