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Off the cuff: Duke took a lot of bad shots - unfortunately for UNC many of them went in. I really don't think firing uncontested threes from five feet behind the arc is what basketball minds had in mind when they dreamed up the three pointer. But that's what the Devils needed to do to beat the Tar Heels who are more talented under the basket.

Duke outscored Carolina by 39 points behind the three-point line. That's hard to overcome but the Tar Heels had done it and had the game in hand up by 10 with 2:30 left.

A lot of things had to go wrong for Carolina and right for Duke, and it all happened. The Tar Heels turned the ball over twice, one inexplicably on a weak pass by Marshall and another on a charging call on Barnes. The Devils hit three three-pointers, got two offensive rebounds that resulted in points and got a gift basket by Zeller, who accidently tipped in a wild shot by Duke's Kelly. Still, Carolina would have won had Zeller hit his free throws.

"This one hurts," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "Our kids competed and did a lot of good things... We just made some mistakes at the end - that's the bottom line."


Henson said for the Tar Heels to play as well as they did for 37 minutes only to fall apart in the last three minutes is "depressing."

But he added, "We'll see 'em again, so we'll be ready." I suggest that Rivers keeps his tongue in his head next time.

The Heels travel to Durham on March 3 and could see them in the ACC tournament a few days later. Who knows, maybe they'll play yet again in the NCAA tournament.

Duke 85, Tar Heels 84
Heels blow big lead, lose at the buzzer

North Carolina led by 10 with 2:38 left but unraveled as Duke outscored the Heels 13-2 with three three-pointers including one at the buzzer by Austin Rivers as the Devils won 85-84 in Chapel Hill. (2/8) Click for a photo gallery.

Duke's strategy of shooting threes paid off as the Devils took 36 three-point shots hitting 14 of them. Rivers, demonstrative after each of his six threes, finished the game with 29 points to lead all scorers.

The Devils started out hot and led by seven at 32-25 following Duke's seventh three pointer of the half, that one by Seth Curry.

But the Tar Heels scratched back, mainly behind the offense and defense of Tyler Zeller, to take a 43-40 lead at the half.

But it was Zeller, who had 23 points, who was the goat at the end of the game.

While the Heels started the second half with a 14-4 run to take a 57-44 lead, everything changed late.

"We fought like crazy just to stay in it and in the last three minutes we got hot," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Unfortunately for Zeller, Duke's opportunities came in great part at his expense. Zeller missed a couple of free throws over the last 44 seconds and then accidently tipped in a shot by Kelly that was way off.

Meanwhile Tyler Thornton hit a three, Curry hit a three and Ryan Kelly hit a baseline jumper following a Harrison Barnes charge, all in less than a minute, to cut Carolina's lead to two at 82-80 with 1:07 left.

Zeller hit one of two free throws to make it 83-80 with 44 seconds left. Following a Duke timeout, Kelly put up that shot that Zeller accidently tipped in to make it 83-82.

Zeller was again fouled but missed the second of a two-shot opportunity to give the Heels only a two-point cushion at 84-82 against three-happy Duke.

Zeller had an opportunity to be a hero again on defense as he was matched up outside against Rivers with time dwindling down but the 7-footer didn't get close enough to Rivers to have any effect on the winning shot at the buzzer.

"They got a little lucky on the ball I tipped in," Zeller said. "But the two free throws I missed left the door open."

As good as Zeller was in the first half, Barnes took over in the second half to finish with a team-high 25 points as all eight of his field goals came in the second half. John Henson had 12 points and 17 rebounds while Kendall Marshall had 14 points and eight assists.

An unforced turnover by Marshall though with less than two minutes left led to Curry's three-pointer.

The Tar Heels out-rebounded the Blue Devils, scored more from the free throw line, had more assists, had fewer turnovers and shot better from the floor. But they couldn't overcome the 14 threes as the Heels countered with only one for a 39-point difference.

Duke led once in the second half and that came after the three by Rivers.

Duke and Carolina are now tied with Florida State with 7-2 conference records and both teams are 20-4 overall.


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