Duke Falls To Archrival UNC At Home On Senior Night, 84-79

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In a highly anticipated rematch between the two top teams in the ACC, the North Carolina Tar Heels eked out a win at Cameron Indoor Stadium over the favored Blue Devils, largely behind Cormac Ryan’s career-high 31 points.

Duke never led in the game. UNC started red hot and raced out to a 15-point lead, with Cormac Ryan splashing 3 triples in a short span to force Coach Jon Scheyer to call timeout. UNC (and ACC) leading scorer RJ Davis had a relatively quiet night, scoring 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting. Big man Armando Bacot also struggled from the field and finished with 9 points. Harrison Ingram was the second-leading scorer for the Tar Heels with 14 points, and also 10 rebounds.

UNC Cormac Ryan
Cormac Ryan quiets the Cameron Crazies with 6 three-pointers and a career high 31 points in Durham.

Kyle Filipowski started slow, but got hot early in the second half and kept his team in it with 23 points. Jared McCain added 19, Tyrese Proctor had 14 and senior leader Jeremy Roach added 13 points. Duke was outrebounded 39-28, and simply could not get enough stops in the second half to complete the comeback.

“They came out and hit us first,” Scheyer said in the postgame news conference. “And, really, the last nine games we’ve been hitting other people first.” It seems obvious, but it truly did feel like the quick start from UNC was the difference. It wasn’t until Duke cut the lead to 1 at 43-42 early in the second half that it seemed to fully recover from the Tar Heel punch. Duke showed plenty of life and made an admirable effort to close the game, including forcing some key UNC errors in the clutch to make it a one possession game. With the lead down to three, UNC was able to inbound the ball and get two free throws to ice it by – you guessed it – Cormac Ryan.

It wouldn’t be Duke-UNC without some drama, and Filipowski found himself at the center yet again on Saturday night. Following a UNC miss, he got tangled up with Harrison Ingram on the floor, and lifted his leg into Ingram as he got up and ran back to defend a Duke runout. Kyle denied tripping Ingram on purpose, but not everyone agreed with his assessment.

Following the game, several UNC players waved goodbye to the Cameron Crazies, and were greeted with a shower of food and drinks from disappointed fans. Video widely shared on X shows the unfortunate exchange. Not a good look, especially with all the Duke talk the past few weeks about poor treatment when they play on the road.

Duke ends the ACC season with an impressive 16-4 record and a #2 seed in the ACC Tournament next week in Washington, DC. This loss to the Tar Heels certainly leaves fans with a bad taste in their mouth, though. Can the Blue Devils get back on track and build some momentum for a deep postseason run? We’ll see. For now, they’ll have to lick their wounds and regroup.

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