for this game

Smith, No. 5 Duke rally to beat Tar Heels

Feb 10, 2011 - 6:59 AM Durham, NC (Sports Network) - Nolan Smith showed North Carolina's freshmen what it takes to win in college basketball's best rivalry.

Smith scored a career-best 34 points, proving to be unstoppable at times, as No. 5 Duke took an early blow, but regained composure and rallied past the 20th-ranked Tar Heels, 79-73, at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"You talk about vintage Duke-North Carolina games. That was one of them," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Seth Curry was the other key scorer for Duke (22-2, 9-1 ACC), triggering its flourish back from a 16-point first half deficit. The Liberty transfer scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, as he and Smith combined to make 21-of-35 shots, while the rest of the Blue Devils connected on just 7-of-33. Kyle Singler was the main culprit of the poor shooting, converting just 3-of-17 attempts for 10 points while also grabbing eight rebounds.

Tyler Zeller and John Henson were effective against Duke's Plumlee brothers, with both posting double-doubles in defeat. Zeller led the Tar Heels (17-6, 7-2) with 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Henson chipped in 14 points and 12 boards. Star freshman Harrison Barnes, who had averaged 22.7 points over the last three games, managed just nine points with six rebounds.

"We just gave them too many opportunities. I think they were so much more aggressive than we were the entire second half," said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams.

A battle of styles saw each team play a textbook half that highlighted its proficiencies, yet also a streak that underscored its weaknesses. In the end, it came down to Smith's unstoppable night and Duke's experience overcoming the Tar Heels' youth.

That youth translated to a high-energy, attacking offensive display in the opening 20 minutes. Freshman point guard Kendall Marshall went to his left at will, creating opportunities for the North Carolina frontline and Barnes, who scored four quick points, only to make just two more field goals the rest of the way.

The Tar Heels ran their way to a 24-15 lead as Henson made a short jumper and Dexter Strickland raced end-to-end for a finger roll. The margin pushed to double figures, 29-19, on Leslie McDonald's layup and got as high as 16 points, 43-27, on Zeller's offensive rebound and putback.

Curry's last-second jumper was a precursor of things to come, but in the first half all it did was trim a surprising deficit to 14. North Carolina ran well, scoring all six of the half's transition points, and excelled in the paint, holding a 28-12 advantage in the paint.

And again, it could have been worse if not for Smith's 5-for-12 effort. The rest of the Blue Devils made just 7-of-24 shots.

Duke used some early offensive rebounding to create two four-point possessions to start the second half, quickly slicing the deficit to 43-37 on Curry's three, the first three of 18 second-half points. After Zeller's jumper kept the Blue Devils at bay, Duke steam rolled the Tar Heels with a 13-1 game- defining stretch. Curry scored the first seven points on a transition trey, and two jumpers where he utilized the shot fake and stepped inside the arch.

Ryan Kelly's three gave Duke the lead for good at 57-55, and Smith's three- point play pushed the margin to five. A Henson slam and Barnes layup trimmed the deficit to 60-59, but the Blue Devils answered with six of the next seven points capped by a pair of Smith free throws with just under five minutes to go.

North Carolina got with four on multiple occasions with the last at 72-68 thanks to Zeller's layup. Singler then scored for the first time in the second half on 1-of-2 free throws with 50 seconds left, and Zeller again scored on a putback for a one-possession game with 38 seconds on the clock.

It was a four-point game after Marshall made 1-of-2 free throws with 17 seconds left, but Smith sprinted long on the inbounds pass for a breakaway bucket to finish off any comeback chance.

Game Notes

Smith and Curry scored 40 of Duke's 50 second half points...North Carolina, which scored nine points off turnovers in the first half, didn't score a single point off them in the second half as Duke controlled the tempo...Marshall scored nine points with six assists and just one turnover in his first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium...North Carolina made just 2-of-14 three-pointers and allowed the Blue Devils to connect on 50 percent of their shots in the second half...Duke has won 33 straight at home and its only two losses in its last 65 home games are to North Carolina.