Roy Williams On the bench for North Carolina

North Carolina

North Carolina at Duke

The Rivalry

On the bench for North Carolina is Roy Williams instead of Dean Smith, but Coach “K” is still there for Duke.  It didn’t matter that the Blue Devils were ranked second in the nation, and the Tar Heels were not in the top 25.  North Carolina began the first half of last night’s game like it was a final four game.

Duke committed 11 turnovers in the first half.  They were out hustled by the Tar Heels, and went into the locker room losing 29-33.  Mason Plumlee had already committed 3 personal fouls.

The beginning of the second half saw North Carolina move out to a 38-31 advantage.  That seemed to send a signal to the Blue Devils who went on a 21-9 run.

The final was 73-68, thanks to shooting 52% from the field in the second half, and 85% from the line.  The Tar Heels shot 56.5% of their free throws.  Coach Williams said:  “The bottom line is, we didn’t make free throws today. We’re not a good free throw shooting team in games. We needed them to miss a couple of those, to say the least. We needed to make a couple of ours.”

North Carolina inserted a small lineup, hoping to out run and out hustle Duke.  Plumlee sat, and junior Tyler Thornton came off the bench.  Averaging 3.5, he scored 9, including two 3 pointers.  He seemed to energize the Blue Devils.  Coach Krzyzewski said of him:

“I like him because he can get angry; I don’t think players get angry like they used to, and that comes easy for me. But I think anger is an emotion that gets you past being tired, it gets you past something. If anger destroys something bad, then it’s good. If it destroys something good, then it’s bad. Tyler’s anger, his competitiveness was really good for us tonight.”

It should have been easier for Duke to win at home.  But when you’re playing a rival, the odds don’t matter.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express

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