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Off the cuff: UNC coach Roy Williams says, "It’s not a lot to say. They kicked our rear ends." Actually there is too much to talk about and little time to do it with the Virginia game looming Monday night in Chapel Hill.

For one, 44 was the most free throws for a North Carolina opponent since Williams became coach.

And then there's the foul trouble, the comeback, the poor free throw shooting and the fact that Louisville played more aggressively in the second half.

“They competed harder than us when we thought we had the game,” Marcus Paige said. “That’s the story of the game. You can look at any statistical category you want.”

Williams agreed saying that Louisville's defense was stronger than Carolina's offense and that their will to win was stronger.

“We’re getting the crap out of town," Williams said.

A win in this game certainly would have set Carolina up for a good chance to win the ACC regular season crown. But let's not over play the importance. A lot can happen. Plus, perhaps it's time to be philosophical.

If Carolina buckles down and beats Virginia, it will be in part because the Heels want to play harder and simply do better after such a disappointing loss.

In other words, Carolina may have beaten Louisville and lost to Virginia. If I were the Cavaliers, I would have preferred to play the Tar Heels with them coming off a win.

Ok, ok, it's best to win both games but maybe Carolina has the intangible edge in the matchup with Virginia Monday. Of course, if the Tar Heels lose to the Cavs, the loss after being up by 18 at Louisville will sting even more and make finishing in the top three in the conference much more difficult.

“We’re trying to win the league,” Paige said. “Dropping one game can mean the difference between the top of the league or a three or four spot with a lot of hurdles to climb. For that reason, this is going to stick with me for a while. It’s going to be hard not to think about this one."

Beating unbeaten Virginia will go a long way toward putting the loss to Louisville in the rear view mirror.

Update: Nevermind, Virginia is now coming off its first loss after falling to Duke Saturday night.

Carolina still gets to play Virginia at home and has two chances to beat Duke.

Duke 92, Tar Heels 90
Heels unravel to lose in OT

North Carolina rallied from 13 down to lead rival Duke by 10 with just over three minutes to play but the Tar Heels unraveled at the end as the homestanding Devils won 92-90 in overtime. (2/18)

It was an emotional back-and-forth game and what is already considered a classic.

The Blue Devils hit seven first-half threes, five from Quinn Cook, to take a commanding 49-36 lead.

Carolina made a mini-run that cut the lead to 49-42 at the half following a JP Tokoto dunk at the buzzer.

The Tar Heels turned the game around with a 15-4 run highlighted by an over-the-head dunk by Tokoto that gave Carolina its first lead of the game.

With another Cook three and a J Okafor inside, Duke took the lead at 62-61 with less than 10 minutes to play.

That's when Carolina seemed to take control of the game. The Tar Heels went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes that was highlighted by a quick Marcus Paige to Joel Berry to Justin Jackson layup.

Nate Britt drove the lane for a basket with 3:47 left to give the Tar Heels their biggest lead at 77-67.

Carolina still led 79-74 with 1:23 left but after Duke's final timeout, UNC's Kennedy Meeks threw a long inbounds pass out of bounds. On Duke's inbounds, Tokoto tipped it to Britt who was fouled.

After a long delay because the clock didn't start, Britt missed the one-and-one. Tyus Jones was fouled going to the hoop and hit two free throws to draw the Devils to within two at 79-76.

Brice Johnson, who would foul out in overtime, hit a pair of free throws to put Carolina back up by five at 81-76 with 47 seconds left.

Jones again attacked the basket, scored and was fouled to an old-fashioned three.

Johnson was fouled but, after another delay because the clock kept running, he missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Again, Jones drove to the hoop to tie it at 81-81. Carolina had a chance with the last shot but Paige, who was only two of 11 on the night, missed a long two, sending the game into overtime.

The Tar Heels got up 87-84 on a Tokoto short bank shot with less than three minutes left. But after a Paige turnover, Cook scored inside to give Duke an 88-87 lead.

A pair of free throws by Isaiah Hicks put Carolina back up 89-88 with two minutes to go.

Okafor backed in for a bucket to put Duke up for good 90-89 at 1:41 left. After that, Britt missed a contested layup, Duke's Matt Jones got a key offensive rebound and a discombobulated UNC offense managed only an outside shot by Tokoto with six seconds left that was missed.

Cook hit only one of two free throws to make it 92-89 so Carolina had a chance to tie it at the end but Britt was fouled.

He hit the first shot and, after a timeout, intentionally missed the second shot. Paige got a hand on the rebound and appeared to have been fouled by Winslow but it wasn't called.

Just like that, it was over.

"Everybody's going to talk about missed free throws at the end," UNC coach Roy Williams said, "but we made mistakes at the beginning of the game as well."

Williams said some weird things happened down the stretch but that he was proud of his team, especially the way the Heels played at the beginning of the second half.

"There were two good basketball teams and the best team won tonight" he said.

Meeks and Johnson led North Carolina with 18 points each while Cook and Jones led Duke with 22 points each.

Carolina falls to 18-8 overall and 8-5 in the ACC while No. 5 Duke improves to 23-3 and 10-3 in the league.


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