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Off the cuff: Carolina is going to run into teams that are just hot - like Duke was Thursday night - but they've got to do something defensively to stop the onslaught of threes.

The problem seems even bigger when the Tar Heels aren't dominating the boards - which they didn't against Duke - and when they miss free throws - which they did against Duke.

In the rivalry, the team that wants the win the most usually wins. The home court advantage doesn't hurt either.

"We competed tonight," UNC's Joel Berry said. "We're at the top of the ACC. It's just one loss. It's a big rivalry and we wanted to win it for our fans. We just have to come back and play basketball."

Duke 86, Tar Heels 78
Heels go cold late, can't overcome 3s

With the score tied at 70-all with seven minutes to go, it was a bad time for North Carolina to go cold. The Tar Heels scored just one basket, missing seven of their last eight shots, as Duke took control late to beat UNC 86-78 Durham. (2/9)

"We had opportunities," UNC guard Joel Berry said. "We just didn't convert at the free throw line."

Carolina missed 10 of 18 from the line, including five of nine over the last seven minutes, including the front end of a one-and-one situation. The Heels struggled to finish at the rim all night so the missed free throws were even more crucial.

Meanwhile, Duke was converting on three-pointers, hitting 13 of 27. Grayson Allen set the tone early with a pair of threes in the first four minutes. Allen hit four three pointers in the first half, including one that gave the Devils a 40-39 lead at the end of the first half. He hit three more in the second half to lead all scorers with 25 points before he fouled out with a minute left.

The Blue Devils shot and hit more threes than they usually do. It was undoubtedly the game plan as Carolina usually dominates inside. But with Isaiah Hicks not playing due to a leg injury suffers at practice Wednesday, Duke actually outrebounded the Tar Heels 31-30 - nullifying Carolina's biggest advantage.

"We fought hard," Duke's coach Mike Krzyzewski said about his team's rebounding. "We fought hard and that was the key to the game."

In the last three minutes, twice the Tar Heels couldn't come up with rebounds that bounced back outside to Duke, following three-point attempts. Both times the Devils were only up by three points and were able to run time off the clock, keeping the ball away from Carolina.

"We didn't make the plays the last few minutes," UNC coach Roy Williams said. In additional to missing out on the long rebounds, he mentioned the missed free throws and three straight times where his team didn't run the offensive effectively.

While Allen and Luke Kennard, 20 points, were giving Duke solid play from the guard position, Carolina's guards were struggling to score. Joel Berry hit only five of 13 from the field, including just two of seven from beyond the three-point line, while the other starting guard Kenny Williams failed to score in 20 minutes of play.

Kennard hit a pair of threes in the first few minutes of the second half while Allen added one to give Duke it's largest lead at 51-43. But Carolina went on an 21-8 run - including eight made shots in a row - to claim a 64-59 lead with 11 minutes to go.

But after Duke managed to tie it, that's when the Tar Heels went cold.

"It was a great basketball game," Coach K said. "Two teams are deserving of a win... It was a heck of a win."

The Tar Heels, now 21-5 and 9-3 in the ACC, are tied for first in the ACC. Duke, now 19-5 and 7-4 in the ACC, aren't far behind.

Carolina tries to get back to winning at NC State on Wednesday.

Box Score

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