DURHAM, N.C. -- With less than a minute left Wednesday night, Duke point guard Quinn Cook reached over during a break in the action and gave North Carolina senior Dexter Strickland a brief rub on the head.
It was a compassionate moment between old friends -- at the end of a passionate, even older rivalry game.
The No. 2 Blue Devils did what they were expected to do at Cameron Indoor Stadium: They beat the unranked Tar Heels 73-68. But they did it in a way that was, perhaps, unexpected considering inconsistent UNC was coming off a big loss at Miami while its counterpart had been on a five-game roll. The Devils had to grit back from a 10-point first-half deficit to do it.
It was a reminder that this Tobacco Road showdown rarely disappoints, and it seldom fails to live up to its hype.
Not with UNC's James Michael McAdoo driving for a two-handed, crowd-wowing behind-the-head dunk; or Duke's Seth Curry hitting key 3-pointers, or the Cameron Crazies blowing out eardrums with body-paint-spewing cheers and jeers throughout.
"I thought both teams played the way Duke and North Carolina teams play," said Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski, who celebrated his 66th birthday with the win. "They play hard, and we did, too."