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Off the cuff: North Carolina needed more scoring from Kenny Williams and the Heels got it.

"All of the shots that I took, except maybe one that I can remember, were pretty much wide open," Williams said. "So, I was just taking what they were giving me, and I knocked them down tonight."

The Tar Heels needed more consistent play from Cam Johnson and they got it. Carolina needed to play hard and take care of the basketball in order to win. Done.

Carolina beat a talented Duke team that figures to lose all its starters to the NBA draft after the season. It didn't look good early though.

It took Carolina nearly eight minutes to take a lead in the game against Duke and that lead lasted about 30 seconds.

Duke worked the lead up to 12 but Carolina fought back to trail by only four at the half. It took Carolina about three minutes in the second half to take a lead on a Cam Johnson rebound follow that made it 53-51.

The Tar Heels never trailed again as the lead got as high as 10 and as low as three. Carolina outscored Duke by eight points in the second half to win by four.

Two of the biggest plays of the game for Carolina - one in the first half and one in the second half - involved Cam Johnson.

On the way back from a 12-point deficit near the end of the first half, Theo Pinson blocked a shot, saved the ball from going out of bounds and got it to Johnson who drove in for a layup to cut the margin to seven and get the crowd jumping.

Late in the game, with the Heels up only 74-71 and having missed 13 shots in a row, Kenny Williams penetrated the lane, drawing defenders, before kicking it out to Johnson who dropped in a big three from the left wing.

Just a couple of comments about the Carolina student fans, who were of course fired up to play Duke and were loud and supportive.

First, the students booed Duke's Grayson Allen every time he got his hands on the ball. That's really pretty stupid. First, you're having to keep up with when Allen has the ball rather than truly paying attention to the game. And second, Allen is a senior who doesn't have the demeanor where booing would bother him. In fact, it probably inspires him. So, it's never good to get hyper focused on one player.

Second, will some future group of Carolina students stop what has become a tradition of starting fires in the street? It's not so much the fire itself but the fact that students are jumping over and through the fire. It's not just kids having fun. I was 20 years old once and never had the inclination to jump over and through a fire. Unlike 90 percent of the people celebrating, I also had no inclination to watch people jump over and through a fire. Cut the foolishness.

Back to basketball, Carolina has the second of three games in five days on Saturday against N.C. State. The Tar Heels may be a bit tired but they should have the revenge factor on the Pack, which upset the Heels in Chapel Hill in overtime.

Tar Heels 82, Duke 78
Carolina takes care of the ball and Duke

North Carolina, which tied a school record for fewest turnovers in a game, came from 12 down to take control in the second half and defeat rival Duke 82-78. (2/8)

The Tar Heels, underdogs at home, survived a 14-4 Blue Devil run in the first half and a five-minute scoring drought in the second half.

UNC coach Roy Williams pointed to his team's assist-to-turnover (15 assists, two turnovers) ratio as a key. "We didn't shoot exceptionally well but we scored when we needed to," Coach Williams said. "Except for a stretch of five or six minutes where we didn't score, we played exceptionally well in the second half."

Having cut a 40-28 deficit to just four at 49-45 at the half, the Tar Heels stormed out of the locker room to outscore the Devils 16-2 to take control at 61-51.

During that run, where the Heels scored on seven straight possessions, Kenny Williams and Joel Berry hit back-to-back long three pointers.

Williams, who tied a career-high 20 points, hit six of 12 threes while Cam Johnson, the transfer from Pitt, hit four of eight three pointers. Johnson, who scored 18 points, added a career-high 13 rebounds.

Rebounding was a big difference in the second half as the Tar Heels went from a five-rebound deficit in the first half to a six-rebound advantage for the game. Carolina picked up 15 offensive rebounds which helped control the clock a bit late when the Tar Heels were having trouble scoring.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said the story of the second half was the 15 offensive rebounds for Carolina. "That was an incredible stat for them. It showed how hard they were going after it," Coach K said of the Heels.

During the biggest drought, Duke cut a nine-point Carolina lead to just two at 74-71 with under five minutes to go. The Tar Heels had missed 13 field goal attempts in a row before Johnson drained a three from the left wing to put Carolina up 77-71 with 3:07 to play.

Berry added a couple of free throws to give the Heels a 79-71 cushion with 2:29 to go.

The Tar Heels had a couple of chances to wrap it up but Theo Pinson missed a dunk and Williams missed a contested layup, opening the door for Duke.

A Marvin Bagley dunk pulled Duke to 79-75 with 34 seconds to go. A Berry free throw and a flying dunk straight down the lane by Pinson with 12 seconds to go wrapped it up for Carolina.

Joining Williams and Johnson in double figures were Berry, who scored 21 despite missing seven of eight threes, and Luke Maye who added 15.

Pinson, the other starter, only scored four points but he hauled in seven rebounds, dished out four assists, and had two steals and a block.

Gary Trent led Duke with 16 points while Bagley added 15 points and 13 rebounds.

The Tar Heels, who travel to N.C. State Saturday, improve to 18-7 and 7-5 in the league while Duke, who have lost two in a row, falls to 19-5 and 7-4 in the ACC.

Box Score

Joel Berry drives.
(UNC Sports Information Photo)

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