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March 3, 2012
DURHAM, NC. -- North Carolina and Duke suffered blows throughout the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season.
Both took painful shots, but each got up and fought back.
Now it's Duke's turn again.
North Carolina played with distinction in an 88-70 victory against No. 4 Duke Cameron Indoor on Saturday.
The Tar Heels clinched first place in the regular season with Saturday's victory. This came after the first game, in which Duke won, thanks to a memorable jump shot fired by Austin Rivers at the horn.
That shot will live on within the heart of ESPN Classics.
This one was Carolina, start to finish.
Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall, Reggie Bullock, Harrison Barnes, James Michael McAdoo got the most from their opportunities.
One glaring aspect is how well and with such confidence the whole UNC team played.
"It was a great basketball game, but we also realize we were fortunate," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "Duke missed some shots they make a lot of times. But overall it was a great, great night for us.
"I always write three things on the board before the game. The first one tonight was attack, attack, attack, and be under control when we did it."
The Tar Heels did it. Five people scored in double figures.
Freshmen James Michael McAdoo (6 points, 4 rebounds) and P.J. Hairston (with 4 rebounds and an assist. Each played a productive game.
"The mode that we were in to really attack was helpful to us," Williams said.
The Blue Devils extended their usual respect for the rivalry and the rival by playing with a superb effort.
This just happened to be the Tar Heels' day.
"They were terrific," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We were overwhelmed in the first half. They played just beautiful basketball and were so efficient. ... They're a great team: They are not a good team -- they're a great team. They played like it tonight. They played like it for most of the season."
Kendall Marshall is one reason.
"Marshall was sensational," Krzyzewski said. "What a performance by that kid. He has just had a magical year for them. He stirs the drink real well."
Marshall went 7-of-15 from the field, 1-of-3 on 3-point attempts for 20 points. He had 10 assists and four turnovers, too.
The drink spilled on Duke in the first half.
"We had some good looks in the first half, not that it would have cut down on a 24-point lead," Krzyzewski said. "Our MO is we don't shoot well against their talent and our demeanor. It's a bad mix after we miss. You have to be a lot tougher. They're so good.
"In the second half, I thought we played just a lot better. A couple of times we put it in position to be single digits. [There were] missed free throws, not that we would win. ... I'm proud of our guys. They're 13-3 and 26-5. The better team won tonight, and my hat is off to them for winning the regular season.
"They're a class group. Now everyone is zero and zero again."
Mason Plumlee went 7-of-13 from the floor and scored a team-high 17 points for Duke.
Just as with Rivers in the first game, talent affected this outcome, only in Carolina's favor on Saturday.
For Carolina, Marshall's 20 points led, while Tyler Zeller enjoyed another excellent performance. He went 9-of-11 from the floor to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds.
"We had five guys in double figures," Williams said. "We made some shots, too. When they were making their run, John made a couple of jump shots, Kendall made a couple of jump shots. You just need to keep attacking.
"I have always believed you have no chance of beating Duke if you don't score," Williams said. "I know that sounds silly, but you have to be aggressive. Duke is so good offensively [that] you have to be willing to score a lot of points.
"There is no question that we had an emphasis the last three or four days to try to have better balance, instead of 42 points from 3 for them and to 3 points for us," Williams said. "We were still in position to win the game [at the Smith Center."
Carolina went 4-of-13 from 3-point range (30.8 percent) compared to 6-of-21 from Duke (28.6 percent).
"I knew that I did not want us to match them, 3-point shot for 3-point shot," Williams said. "We have really emphasized how they scored their 3s. They shot 36 3s, and I took every one of them and analyzed it and said, 'What happened on every one of the 36 plays.' I showed the team those 36 plays."
Henson played well again. His jump shots during the second half proved timely. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"Tonight was about North Carolina's team, and everybody did some good things," Williams said. "Reggie, had four offensive rebounds, and I that on three of the four we scored. John was big for us scoring and rebounding."