Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
No. 21 North Carolina uses fiery second-half run to rally past No. 9 Duke in rivalry game
By AARON BEARDCHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Joel Berry II scored 21 points and No. 21 North Carolina rallied from 12 down in the first half to beat No. 9 Duke 82-78 in Thursday’s renewal of the fierce rivalry.
Kenny Williams made six 3-pointers and matched his career high with 20 points for the Tar Heels (18-7, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who roared out of halftime with a 16-2 run that erased what was left of Duke’s early lead.
Cameron Johnson added 18 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Tar Heels overcome the Blue Devils’ significant size advantage to own the glass (28-17) after halftime.
North Carolina led by as many as 10 and saw Duke get to within 74-71 late, but the Tar Heels did just enough to hang on. Theo Pinson punctuated the win with a dunk off the press break with 11.1 seconds left to seal it.
BIG PICTUREDuke: The Blue Devils were coming off Saturday’s loss to a St. John’s team that was 0-11 in the Big East — the Red Storm stunningly followed that with a road upset of No. 1 Villanova — in a performance that coach Mike Krzyzewski described as “disgusting” and not up to the program’s standards. It looked like Duke was ready to bounce back in the first half, but the Blue Devils couldn’t match UNC’s second-half edge.
UNC: The Tar Heels hadn’t played particularly well coming in, suffering their first three-game losing streak in nearly four years with their only win in the past two-plus weeks coming against a Pittsburgh team that’s now 0-12 in the ACC. But Thursday’s run after halftime — and their composure for much of the second half, for that matter — was some of the best basketball the Tar Heels have played in weeks.
UP NEXTDuke: The Blue Devils visit Georgia Tech on Sunday.
UNC: The Tar Heels get another rivalry game against North Carolina State — even though Berry said this week he didn’t consider the Wolfpack a rival — on Saturday in Raleigh, part of a stretch of three games in five days.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.