The headline of Wednesday night in the ACC, and frankly across the nation, was this season's first edition of Duke and North Carolina. The Tar Heels finished strong and beat the Blue Devils 79-73.
For the 3rd straight game, Duke lost a lead late while not executing, and specifically not hitting free throws late against the Heels. Let's take a look at the 3 key factors that we layed out yesterday, and see how the two teams broke down:
- Tempo, Tempo, Tempo: The Blue Devils jumped out to an early lead playing the Tar Heels pace. The frantic pace and the Duke defense kept the Tar Heels from getting the ball down low as Tyler Hansbrough had just 4 points in the first half. The tempo slowed in the second half and the UNC defense stepped up as the Blue Devils were unable to execute late once again.
- Defensive Intensity: As the defensive intensity went, so did the momentum. The Blue Devils brought a frantic pace early overplaying the UNC guards and forcing them to penetrate and make shots, as opposed to getting the ball into the paint to Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. In the second half, North Carolina did a much better job contesting three-point shots and limited the effectiveness Duke had early in the first half.
- Take Care of the Ball: Duke ended up with 16 turnovers, while the Tar Heels finished with 13 and around 4 more points off turnovers than Duke. The two point guards, Ty Lawson (3 tos) and Greg Paulus (0 tos), handled the pressure pretty well, while others did not. Reyshawn Terry led the Heels with 5 tos while Demarcus Nelson and Josh McRoberts each finished with 4 turnovers.
North Carolina was led by a quiet performance from Brandan Wright, as the freshman big man had 19 pts and 9 rebs. Tyler Hansbrough finished with 16 pts and 3 rebs while having just 4 pts and 0 rebs at halftime. Ty Lawson was once again impressive as the freshman point guard finished with 15 pts, 8 rebs, and 4 asts.
Duke started the game with captains Josh McRoberts and Demarcus Nelson on the bench, to save their legs and bring some extra defensive chaos to the game. Jon Scheyer led the Blue Devils with 26 pts, while Greg Paulus (15 pts, 4 asts), Gerald Henderson (14 pts, 4 rebs), and Demarcus Nelson (12 pts) all added double-figures.
In other ACC play, Clemson took care of FSU 71-58 in Littlejohn Coliseum. KC Rivers led the way for the Tigers with 17 pts while Cliff Hammonds (16 pts, 6 asts, 4 rebs) and Vernon Hamilton (11 pts) each added double-figures. The key for the Tigers was defense where Florida State made just 36% of their shots.
Florida State was led in scoring by Al Thornton with 21 pts and 5 rebs, but Thornton did not get much help as no other Florida State players had double-figures. A game after the 'Noles made 8-16 three-point shots against Duke, FSU was not as fortunate against the Tigers as they made just 4-18 long range shots.
Also last night, Boston College went down to Miami and won 75-68, as Jared Dudley continued his strong play. Dudley finished with 26 pts, 9 rebs, and 4 asts on 10-13 shooting, while Tyrese Rice pitched in 21 pts. John Oates also added double-figures with 10 pts and 5 rebs as only 5 players scored for BC.
Miami was led by Denis Clemente with 24 pts on 5-8 three point shooting, while Dwayne Collins added a double-double with 11 pts and 13 rebs. The Hurricanes were playing without Raymond Hicks who was suspended indefinitely by Frank Haith, possibly for the remainder of the season.