Duke Honors Dean Smith Before Crazy Finale Against UNC
Yesterday, arguably the greatest rivalry in college basketball between Duke and UNC went underway for the 239th time: UNC currently leads the series with a 133-106 record. And while the match up was a showstopper, what Duke did before the game showed that though these teams are rivals, they still respect each other. Before tip off at at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, the arena had a moment of silence for legendary UNC coach Dean Smith.
The Duke UNC rivalry was at its best when Dean Smith and Mike Kryzewski were at the helms. Smith ended his career with a 59-35 record over Duke and a 24-14 record over Kryzewski — not many can claim that over Mr. 1000 wins.
And after the moment of silence — where the players gathered at center court to kneel in remembrance — the game certainly did not disappoint. Tonight’s match up was the 72nd time Duke and UNC met while ranked: with an equal record of 36-36. But as of late, Duke has been controlling the series with a 9-3 record since 2010.
It simply could have been anybody’s game as both teams went back and forth trading leads: but Duke seemed to be pulling away at halftime with a 49-42 lead. However, UNC was quickly able to squash that on the 18-point performances of Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson. At one point the Tar Heels actually pulled away to a 9-point lead. But Tyus Jones was able to level the score at 81 with 30 seconds left in the second half, which of course means they were headed into overtime.
And if you thought the second half was a nail biter, they exchanged five more lead changes before the game was all said and done. In the end, it was the injured beast Jail Okafor — he twisted his ankle early in the first half — that scored the final go ahead bucket, putting Duke up 90-89. Still, the Tar Heels had their opportunities to score: J.P. Tokoto could not connect on a go ahead two and they missed a tap back after Nate Britt’s free throw. Duke finished out on top 92-90.