Allen, Tatum Lead No. 18 Duke Past No. 8 UNC 86-78

Duke rode the emotion of the night and dragged Carolina down in the 243rd meeting between the league rivals, surviving a UNC run in the second half that staggered the Blue Devils and left them on the verge of collapse. He scored 11 points in the first 11 minutes as Duke's offense picked up after a few early wobbles.

Everyone at Duke has to feel better after this performance. From then until the end of the game, Tatum grabbed four of his eight defensive rebounds, including one that led to a Grayson Allen dunk with about 3 minutes to play. "The players have two uniforms for every game in case they rip it, tear it, or get a blood stain we can't get out", said Dave McClain, director of athletic equipment, who added the only stain they couldn't remove was red Gatorade (or something similar) thrown on a player in Maryland in the mid 90's. "We both played lights out". When his final shot sank, Cameron cracked to thunder. "I don't know if we can necessarily say we're a better shooting team that previous year", Jackson said Tuesday.

The Blue Devils advance to 21-4 on the season and 9-3 in the ACC. Duke's freshmen are getting better.

Through much of the second half, UNC was rolling.

The streak followed a stretch in which Duke looked uncharacteristically vulnerable, losing four of seven while dealing with the absences of key players and Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, who took a four-week leave for back surgery. First, there's the thought that after all the jokes and memes at Grayson Allen's and Coach K's expense, this team is slowly putting it together.

And somehow, that was to Duke's favor.

"At this point we've got to realize that we can't keep talking about the same things", senior guard Nate Britt said.

Duke matched Carolina with Allen out, though. Berry got a steal, and got to the free throw line.

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Now the Blue Devils are facing an NCAA Tournament-like challenge to put the emotions of that win aside and quickly turn their attention to a new opponent. The collisions intensified, but the whistles stopped.

I haven't been a UNC fan as long as others with my love for the school and the basketball team really only beginning once I was accepted there. The Seminoles play at Notre Dame on Saturday and at Duke on February 28, but three of their final six games come against teams sitting in 12th or worse in the standings.

A pair of Jackson baskets for UNC within 37 seconds of each other put the Tar Heels up 38-35 with 1:08 left in the half.

While it's easy to dismiss Thursday's loss because of the venue, the emotion of the rivalry and the extenuating circumstance of Isaiah Hicks' injury - which forced UNC to play without one of its best inside scoring and rebounding threats - the flaws that were exposed can't simply be dismissed by saying "they just made more plays than we did".

The fact that they were already looking ahead in the moments after their most disheartening defeat of the season rather dwelling on the events that had just taken place, is a positive sign considering the gauntlet that awaits them over the final four weeks of the regular season.

The dunk got Tatum going too.

The league can thank Duke for that. Wichita State is tied atop the MVC with Illinois State. Berry added 15. The most important stat of the game, though, was Duke's rebounding.

  • Douglas Reid