Officially, it goes down as an upset. But we know better. Duke knew better.
Duke could be playing the original Dream Team, well, certainly the most recent one, and if the game is in Cameron Indoor Stadium, labeling the Blue Devils underdogs is folly.
That’s what the oddsmakers and experts did this week. Vegas made the seventh-ranked Blue Devils two-point underdogs. Up and down Tobacco Road the word was the second-ranked Tar Heels would rule.
“I honestly think any team coming into Cameron is going to have a have a hard time,” said J.J. Redick.
Just ask North Carolina.
The Tar Heels came into last night’s ACC showdown averaging 90.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting. But in this sweat box, which has wireless Internet but no air conditioning, North Carolina got outhustled by the dogged Dukies, 71-70.
“Who said we were underdogs?” asked Redick. “Who said that?”
When told about the line, Redick, the most antagonistic Blue Devil since Steve Wojciechowski, replied, “Yeah, I’m on the gambling websites all the time.”
Don’t bet on it. And don’t bet against Duke in Cameron. Not only were the Tar Heels held to 20 points below their average but they shot 43.9 percent and committed 23 turnovers. They couldn’t even get a shot with 18.2 seconds left.
David Noel took a botched pass from point guard Raymond Felton and fumbled the ball out of bounds after Duke had broken down Carolina’s last play. The horn sounded and Cameron erupted.
“Needless to say, we didn’t get any shot, much less the shot we wanted,” said Roy Williams. “I was very confident at that point. We were trying to run a set that we’ve run a lot and had good results from it in the past but we didn’t get it tonight.”
When Redick (18 points) drained a fallaway 3 with 5:01 left to give Duke a 67-58 lead, the outcome seemed determined. But Carolina got a monster game from Sean May, who had 23 points, and pulled within 71-68. After freshman DeMarcus Nelson, who had his best Judi Poker Online game (16 points, four steals, three assists) turned the ball over, Rashad McCants scored to make it a one-point game with 53 seconds left.
Redick was forced into taking a desperation 3 that missed everything. Carolina had one last chance with 18.2 seconds left. But Duke (18-2, 8-2 ACC) turned up the defense and Carolina (19-3, 8-2) couldn’t get off a shot.
“Our team has been pretty mentally tough all year,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “They have never made any excuses about injuries and depth or anything like that.”
This was Coach K’s first game since fainting in the first half of Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech.
“Obviously I got checked and am being checked just to make sure,” said the 57-year-old coach. “Whenever you have an episode, you shouldn’t be stupid and not follow up. With the immediate checks, everything seems fine.”