DURHAM, N.C. -- After trailing North Carolina by 16 points going into the final minute of the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium, No. 5 Duke rallied to defeat the No. 21 Tar Heels 79-73 on Wednesday night.
Duke extended its 33-game home winning streak and beat UNC for the third straight time in college basketball’s greatest rivalry. The Blue Devils (22-2, 9-1 ACC) also took a one-game lead in the loss column over UNC (17-6, 7-2 ACC) in the ACC standings.
Here’s an instant analysis of the Blue Devils’ come-from-behind victory:
Turning point: After trailing 43-27 with 1:10 to go in the first half, Duke’s Seth Curry made the final jumper of the half to make it 43-29 heading into the break. Then the Blue Devils scored the first eight points of the second half to wipe out most of the Tar Heels’ big lead. UNC turned the ball over on its first three possessions, and the Blue Devils had a pair of four-point possessions in the first three minutes of the half to make it 43-37 with 17:25 to go.
Turning point II: With Duke holding a 62-60 lead with less than five minutes to play, UNC’s Reggie Bullock fouled Seth Curry on a 3-point attempt. Curry went 2-for-3 at the line to make it 64-60. After Carolina's John Henson turned the ball over on the Tar Heels’ next trip, Nolan Smith was fouled and made two foul shots for a 66-60 lead.
Players of the game: Smith and Curry took over the game in the second half. They combined to score 56 points in the game, including 40 of Duke’s 50 after halftime. Smith scored a career-high 34 points and made 13 of 23 shots. He went 3-for-6 on 3-pointers and also had three assists. Curry scored 22 points off the bench on 8-for-12 shooting, along with six rebounds, five assists and one steal.
Best performance in a losing effort: Tyler Zeller, a junior from Washington, Ind., dominated the action early, making seven of his first eight shots. He finished with 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting, while grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds.
Most deceiving stat line: UNC freshman Kendall Marshall made his sixth straight start at point guard and delivered in one of the country’s most difficult environments. Marshall scored nine points on only 3-for-11 shooting, but he handled Duke’s pressure well and had six assists with only one turnover.
Worst night: Duke senior Kyle Singler scored 10 points or more for the 21st consecutive game, but he worked hard to do it. Singler made only 3 of 17 shots and was 1-for-6 on 3-pointers.