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Off the cuff: I'm normally one of those stick in the muds who wouldn't like Carolina students rushing the court after a win. After all, it's better to act as if you've been there before. To be classy. After all, it's North Carolina. Tar Heels expect to win. But after suffering earlier in the season and not being nationally ranked and having lost twice to Duke last year and having been a factor in the game intensity, I say "rush the court students." But, let's not make a habit of it.

By the way, the Tar Heels are now the first team ever that has beaten the preseason No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 teams in one season.

Speaking of being a stick in the mud, I prefer the decorum that Carolina fans had when Dean Smith was coach. There was no hand waving behind the baskets, no air ball chants (which Carolina shouldn't do anyway since it started with Duke fans in a game against Carolina), no signs and no bare chests. There was all of that in this game. Seriously, I don't care if your chest is painted, students should not be allowed to go shirtless.

As for the game, Coach Williams said it ranks right up there, especially as far as a home court advantage. Fans were in their seats early and were loud before, during and after the game.

Williams said the crowd was also great for senior day last year when the Tar Heels laid an egg, falling behind early 14-0.

"The crowd was into it so much tonight," Williams said. "At senior day last year, we let the crowd down. I didn't want that to happen again."

Carolina had to overcome nine first-half turnovers, foul trouble and suspect free throw shooting. At one time the Heels were one of eight from the line.

Leslie McDonald kept the Tar Heels in it in the first half and Marcus Paige, who got a lot of pressure from the Duke defense in the first half, started getting loose in the second half when he scored all 13 of his points.

The 18-6 run at the end was a good lead up to a court rushing. Just don't do that again. You're North Carolina.

Tar Heels 74, Duke 66
UNC keeps composure to upset Dook

North Carolina had committed unforced turnovers and missed free throws badly but in the last five minutes the Tar Heels played almost flawlessly, outscoring Duke 18-6 to beat their chief rival 74-66. (2/20)

"That's a great, great rivalry," UNC coach Roy Williams said at game's end. "I loved our guy's composure down the stretch."

After a ragged first half, North Carolina trailed by seven and then by 11 in the second half before chipping away at the Blue Devil lead.

Down 60-56 with less than five minutes to go, Leslie McDonald, who twice had missed the front end of one-and-one situations, went to the foul line and calmly drained two free throws to start the run.

James Michael McAdoo scored inside with 4:22 left to tie it at 60-60 and McDonald sank a 15-footer with 3:50 to go that gave Carolina its first lead since midway through the first half.

Marcus Paige banged in a step-back jumper and followed it with a drive-by layup to keep the Heels out front at 66-62 with 1:28 left.

The Tar Heels, who had missed seven free throws in the first half, hit six in a row down the stretch - four by freshman Nate Britt and two by Paige - as they won going away.

The Tar Heels started the game running out to a 6-0 lead but things got sloppy with six UNC turnovers in fewer than seven minutes. Duke tied it at 8-8 on by jumper by Rodney Hood and the Devils took their first lead 40 seconds later on a contested three by Hood that made it 11-8.

The Blue Devils stretched the lead to six at 18-12 before Carolina went on an 8-0 run highlighted by a dunk follow by Desmond Hubert and a backdoor play from Paige to McDonald, which put UNC up 20-18.

The Devils went on a 9-0 run to take control at 27-22 and took their biggest lead of the half at 35-28 on a drive by Jabari Parker after Carolina's ninth turnover of the half.

The Tar Heels outscored a cold Blue Devil team in the second half by 15 points, 44-29.

Duke led 51-40 before going cold. The Blue Devils went almost nine minutes without a field goal, going 0 of 13. Meanwhile Carolina outscored them 11-2 to cut into the lead and then drew to within a point on a Paige three at 57-56 with 5:27 left.

After Quinn Cook hit a three of his own to put the Devils back up by four, Carolina went on the late run.

"We guarded them ok but they missed some shots they normally make," Coach Williams said. "We changed defenses and that hopefully helped."

Duke had been driving to the hoop for easy baskets against the man-to-man before Carolina switched in and out of a floating 1-3-1 zone defense. As a result, the Devils were just five of their last 23 shots.

McDonald led the Tar Heels with 21 points in probably his best game of the year. "He was big for us tonight and we needed him to be big," Williams said.

Paige contributed 13 while McAdoo added 10.

UNC's eighth straight victory moves the Heels to 19-7 and 9-4 in the ACC while Duke fell to 21-6 and 10-4 in the league.

The Tar Heels host Wake Forest Saturday at noon.


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