for this game

UNC tops Duke for ACC regular season title

Mar 4, 2012 - 3:35 AM Durham, NC (Sports Network) - This time, there would be no last-second opportunity for Duke to steal a win over North Carolina. The sixth-ranked Tar Heels returned the favor from a last-second loss earlier this season by throttling the No. 4 Blue Devils, 88-70, Saturday night to win the ACC regular season title.

Duke trailed the entire second half of the Feb. 8 meeting against UNC until Austin Rivers hit a three-pointer from the right wing as time expired, lifting the Blue Devils to an 85-84 victory in Chapel Hill.

Roy Williams' team blew a double-digit lead with less than three minutes left in the first encounter this year, but the Tar Heels maintained their composure in the regular season finale after racing to a 24-point halftime edge at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Kendall Marshall scored 20 and had 10 assists, and Tyler Zeller contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels (27-4, 14-2 ACC), who have won seven in a row since falling to Duke. They'll be the No. 1 seed for the ACC Tournament at Philips Arena next week.

"We lose to Duke and everyone's got a great opinion about how stupid we are and how bad we are and my team kept playing," Williams said. "The best thing about my team is they're pretty tough. I mean that's some pretty big plays they've had to bounce back from and I think they've done a nice job. Right now they're ACC regular season champions."

John Henson ended with 13 points and 10 boards, while Harrison Barnes scored 16 for the Tar Heels, who shot 54.5 percent from the field, led by Zeller's 9- of-11 performance. They also had a 45-28 rebounding advantage.

"It wasn't our offense that hurt us. It was mainly our defensive rebounding," Rivers said.

The Blue Devils (26-5, 13-3), who got 16 points and 11 rebounds from Miles Plumlee, had their seven-game winning streak broken. Mason Plumlee had 17 points, Rivers 15 and Seth Curry 12, but Duke shot just 41.3 percent.

Quickness and power on the glass were the story of the first half and the reason the Tar Heels dominated Duke, which struggled to a 9-of-34 shooting performance over the opening 20 minutes.

UNC went 1-of-7 from three-point range in the first half, but the Tar Heels made up for the misses with a huge 29-10 advantage on the boards. That included nine offensive rebounds.

After Rivers went 1-of-2 from the foul line, North Carolina scored 14 in a row. The spurt included an acrobatic follow dunk from James Michael McAdoo off a miss from Barnes. That provided a 15-point difference, and then after Mason Plumlee missed a jumper, Zeller drove in for a layup to end the rally for a 22-5 score with under 13 minutes left.

Duke missed 15 straight field-goal tries during the pivotal UNC push.

Miles Plumlee jammed to get Duke within 30-19, but Henson's layup started a 14-1 burst, finished by P.J. Hairston's two-handed follow dunk off a missed three from Barnes.

Duke scored a team-low 24 points for a half and was doubled up at the break thanks to UNC's 52.6 percent shooting.

"We were overwhelmed in the first half. They just played beautiful basketball. They were so efficient," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

The Cameron Crazies raised the decibel level when Tyler Thornton canned a three-pointer with the shot clock about to expire, drawing the hosts within 50-34.

The Blue Devils, though, failed to play solid defense, and when Reggie Bullock drained a three, UNC's lead was back to 20, 57-37, inside 15 minutes showing.

Foul trouble then started to mount for Duke. Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers looked on in disbelief from the stands when his son picked up No. 3 on a charge call with 13:22 remaining. Less than a minute later, Miles Plumlee was hit with his fourth foul.

Despite this, Duke continued to slice into the deficit. Curry's three from near the top of the arc made it 71-57 with less than eight minutes to go.

The margin could have gone into single digits a couple of times, but Curry missed a wide open three and then Rivers failed on a 1-and-1 attempt.

Marshall canned a long jump shot and McAdoo's putback provided a 79-64 difference with nearly three minutes left. Barnes then effectively sealed the outcome by sinking a three-pointer.

Game Notes

For the fourth time in the last seven seasons, the ACC regular-season champion was determined by the second UNC-Duke game of the year. This was the ninth consecutive season that either UNC or Duke became ACC regular season champion...The Tar Heels have won seven consecutive ACC road games and have beaten Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium five of the last seven times...Bullock had 12 points.