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Off the cuff: Many figured the Tar Heels would get blown out at Duke but Carolina looked good for much of the game. The Devils didn't take a lead until six minutes into the second half.

The Tar Heels lost a little of the poise they had displayed by hesitating, missing easy shots and missing free throws. If Carolina can rebound with its new starting lineup, which now includes Hairston, it might be a different story when the two teams meet in Chapel Hill.

Player comments from the Carolina-Duke game:

P.J. Hairston (23 points, 8 rebounds)

“I can say I’m proud of my teammates, the way they fought throughout the whole game and never gave in.”

“We just had a couple miscues, a couple missed boxouts. They hit some big shots. You have to give them that, they hit some big shots. But we missed a couple boxouts that led to 3-point shots. If you look back at it, those 6 points cost us, because we lost the game by 5 points. But other than that, we just played with great effort.”

“We came out with fire, we came out wanting to win and with intensity. And we came out and played together. We jumped on them quick before they could jump on us. That was the goal. That’s what we wanted to do. It was all about effort.”

“We know what we can play like, and we know we can do this any game. It’s just a matter of us doing it instead of talking about it.”

Reggie Bullock (15 points, 8 rebounds)

“I got comfortable when we added P.J. to the lineup. He brings another scoring ability and offensive rebounding, just another player out there I feel comfortable playing with. For coach to put him in the lineup to give us an extra shooter in the starting five, it was a great idea. And he played well at his position tonight.”

“We had some bad possessions, some we usually don’t have. Taking a shot with the right hand, taking five more seconds to get a better shot, stuff like that. Overall, I feel like we played a better game, but this was one of our badder days where we didn’t connect on our shots that we usually make.”

“We can see what effort in games gets us, playing in big-time games like this. That’s a top-five team in the nation and we still feel like we could have won that game by 10, 15 points. It was just some of the small things we didn’t do. Shots that we had open, we didn’t connect on them that we usually connect on them. We just struggled tonight shooting.”


Duke 73, Tar Heels 68
Heels miss opportunities to win at Duke

North Carolina led Duke by 10 points in the first half, led by four at the break and led by seven early in the second half. But Duke, in foul trouble for much of the game, hit some big shots and watched the Tar Heels miss free throw after free throw as the Devils edged UNC 73-68 in Durham. (2/13)

The Tar Heels, with new starter P.J. Hairston in the lineup, got off to a quick start for a change. Carolina led Duke 28-18 but the Blue Devils went on an 11-5 run to cut the deficit to four at the half, 33-29.

Carolina increased the lead to seven at 38-31 after the first three minutes of the second half. But the next four minutes were owned by Duke who outscored UNC 16-5 to take a 47-43 lead.

The lead swelled to as much as eight points, the first time when Seth Curry hit a three to put the Devils up 59-51.

The Tar Heels missed six free throws in a row, including the front end of a one-and-one situation but still managed to claw back to within four with 1:14 to go.

Conversely, the Blue Devils sank eight free throws in a row to wrap it up.

Duke, which hit only one of five threes in the first half, collected five of 11 in the second half including three big ones from reserve guard Tyler Thornton.

"Rasheed (Sulaimon) and Quinn (Cook) did a good job of driving to the basket and drawing the defense, and I was just able to knock down the open shot," Thornton said. "When I get out there, I just want to make an impact, whatever that may be. Tonight it was on the offensive end, getting offensive tip-outs and hitting those shots."

For his part, UNC coach Roy Williams said, though he isn't into moral victories, he was happy with his team's intensity. "I was pleased with the effort," he said. "But we didn't shoot the ball very well and I think we are a good shooting team."

The Tar Heels shot just 38 percent from the field and managed to connect on only 13 of 23 free throws. Meanwhile the Blue Devils shot 45 percent and connected on 17 of 20 free throws. In other words, Duke got three fewer free throw attempts but scored four more points from the line.

Duke did turn the ball over 17 times, including 11 in the first half, while Carolina lost it 13 times.

Hairston, who managed just one of seven threes, nonetheless led the Tar Heels with a career-high tying 23 points. Cook and Mason Plumlee, who was in foul trouble, led the Devils with 18 each.

The Tar Heels, who fall to 16-8 overall and 6-5 in the ACC, host Virginia Saturday at 12 noon.


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