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Off the cuff: Once again, Duke was playing without Zion Williamson, who was hurt in the first minute of the last game against Carolina, and starting cengter Marques Bolden, who only played three minutes in this one before going out with an injury.

When asked about it, UNC coach Roy Williams said, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a ..." He didn't say the damn part but the point was clear that all that matters is what happens on the floor.

He made a great point that while Duke might have played at a higher level, he likes to think that his team would match that higher level had Williamson played.

If each team wins a game in the ACC Tournament, you could see them meet again in the semi-finals. It would be hard to beat Duke three times in a season, especially since Williamson is expected to be back.

RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish are superb freshmen but they were about all that Duke has without Williamson and Carolina's less-heralded but more experienced players won out in the end.

Senior Kenny Williams had his best game of the year with 18 points and some good defensive play.

Senior Cam Johnson, really a grad student, was in foul trouble in the first half but was instrumental in setting the tone for the second half when he came out and scored four quick points to put the Heels up 42-40. While the game was tied a couple of times after that, the Heels never trailed again.

Senior Luke Maye started out cold and only ended with seven points but he had 16 points and seven assists - tops in both categories for Carolina.

The three each gave emotional speeches after the game. Maye was especially choked up when talking about how his father, who was injured as a football player and never reached his potential, said he was trying to live through him.

By the way, one day Carolina and Duke are going to meet four times in a season with the last being in the NCAA Tournament of course. Could that be this year?

Tar Heels 79, Duke 70
Heels sweep Devils to earn ACC co-title

North Carolina went the last seven minutes without a basket against Duke but still managed to whip the Devils 79-70 for a Senior Night win that tied Virginia for the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title. (3/9)

The Tar Heels, trailing 40-38 at the half, built up a 15-point lead in the second half after senior Kenny Williams, who had a season-high 18 points, drained a three from the top of the key with 6:47 left.

It was close throughout with eight ties and eight lead changes but a 17-5 Carolina run that started midway through the second half changed the trajectory of the game.

Freshman Coby White, who controlled the pace particularly during the run, started the run with a driving basket left of the lane. He was fouled and hit the free throw to make it 61-55.

Later, White, who led the Heels with 21 points, juked defenders with a jab step and stopped for triple in front of the Carolina bench, giving the Heels their first double-digit lead at 70-60.

Seconds later, White whipped a sharp pass to Garrison Brooks who was open for a dunk that got the Smith Center rocking and gave Carolina a 72-60 lead.

Williams, who probably had his best game of the season on a night where he played for the last time on the home court, hit that three to make it 75-60.

During a Duke 10-0 run, Carolina took some ill-advised shots and made some ill-advised passes.

Duke's Barrett hit a three from straightaway to draw the Devils to within five at 75-70 with 2:15 to go. Neither team could get much going during a wild couple of minutes that followed.

After Williams blocked a Barrett three, grad student Cam Johnson was fouled and he hit both ends of a one-and-one to put the Heels up 77-70 with 49 seconds to go.

A pair of free throws by Brooks, who had missed several free throws during the game, wrapped up the game.

Joining White and Williams in double figures for Carolina were Johnson, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Brooks, who had 10 points. Senior Luke Maye had only seven points but hauled in 16 rebounds and dished out a team-leading seven assists.

The Tar Heels improve to 26-5 and finish 16-2 in the conference. Duke, led by Barrett's 26 and Cam Reddish's 23, falls to 26-5 and 14-4 in the ACC.

Carolina, who opens the ACC tournament in New York on Thursday at 7 as the No. 2 seed, swept Duke for the first time since 2009.

Box score

UNC Seniors Luke Maye, Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams.
(UNC Sports Information photo.)

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