February 10, 2011 by staff
Seth Curry added a season-high 22 points for the Blue Devils (22-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).
They trailed 43-27 at the last minute of the first half and were down 14 at halftime before clamping down on the Tar Heels, 50-30 in dominating the final 20 minutes to keep hand over first place in the league.
Tyler Zeller had 24 points and 13 rebounds in his career, and John Henson added 14 points for North Carolina (17-6, 7-2), which had its series of five wins snapped and lost for the third time in a row fiercest rivalries in college basketball.
Kyle Singler finished with 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting for the Duke, but hit three key free throws in the final minute – two with 25.2 seconds left 75-70 after North Carolina had made a match single possession.
Then, after Kendall Marshall hit a free throw to pull the Tar Heels within four with 17.2 seconds left, Smith beat everyone downcourt and climbed to a breakaway dunk, but all assured the Blue Devils would to avoid their first defeat at Cameron Indoor Stadium in almost exactly two years. Duke raised its best NCAA series win at home to 33.
The Blue Devils were in the unfamiliar position of being dominated on their home court when their guards are things rolling in the final seconds of the first half, with Curry jumper to mark five seconds to start 18-6 that makes a game again.
Rider Smith of the Duke of pronation 49-45 with 14 ½ minutes, about 4 minutes before the race began Curry 13-1 that put the Blue Devils for the first time.
Curry reeled off seven points in a little faster than a minute before Ryan Kelly delivered the game only lead change. Duke’s 3-pointer put up 57-55 with 9:15 left, and three-point play by Smith about a minute later, it extended to 60-55.
Smith completed 13 of 23 and surpassed his previous career high of 33 points set a month ago against UAB. Curry hit two free throws in the final seconds to beat his 20-point performance Jan. 27 against Boston College. They helped the Blue Devils offer a comeback for the ages: Duke had not erased a deficit of half-time for that big win since 1959 when the Navy Blue Devils led by 14 at halftime.
Nobody on the list of the reconstituted North Carolina had already played in a win for Cameron – at 180 degrees, 11 February 2009, when Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green won for the fourth time in four trips to Duke while distributing the Blue Devils their most recent loss at home.
The scholarship only Tar Heel who was on the team this year – Zeller – has not played in this match because he was injured.
But essentially the entire first 20 minutes of it, it was North Carolina that was complete control.
The Tar Heels never trailed in the first half, reeled off the first eight points and methodically stretched its lead to 16 on Zeller’s stickback with 1:10 before the break. They did so largely by outworking the Blue Devils – beat them downcourt with regularity, with the big men who dominated the paint. By halftime, Zeller scored 13 points and nine rebounds while Henson added 10 points.
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