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.
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No. 12 North Carolina advances to ACC Tournament final as Grayson Allen and No. 5 Duke come unglued
By RALPH D. RUSSO & ADAM ZAGORIANEW YORK (AP) — Luke Maye scored 17 points, including North Carolina’s last field goal with 5:33 remaining, and No. 12 North Carolina held off a late rally by No. 5 Duke to advance to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship game with a 74-69 victory on Friday night.
It was the 100th ACC Tournament win for North Carolina (25-9), which will appear in their 35th ACC final against top-ranked Virginia on Saturday night at Barclays Center. That will be a rematch of the 2016 ACC championship, won by North Carolina.
“They’re the No. 1 team and they beat us by 77 points or whatever it was so we’ve got to go in there and play the perfect game,” UNC coach Roy Williams said, referencing his team’s 61-49 loss on Jan. 6 in Charlottesville.
“If we play a lot better then we have a chance. For us a lot of things have to go right in order to beat Virginia.”
North Carolina led by 15 when Maye hit a jumper with 5:33 left and it looked as if it would cruise into the title game. But the Tar Heels went cold and second-seeded Duke went on a 13-0 run, drawing within three on Gary Trent Jr.’s 3 with 50 seconds left.
The Tar Heels turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, but an offensive foul by Grayson Allen and then a missed 3 by Allen, trying to draw contact on Maye, stymied Duke (26-7).
“I have nothing to say about the last 5 minutes of the game,” Williams quipped. “Coach [Steve] Robinson coached that part of the game.”
Theo Pinson made two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to seal it and the Tar Heels snapped a six-game losing streak in the ACC Tournament to their most heated Tobacco Road rivals — and they even the series in Brooklyn at 1 each. Duke beat the Tar Heels in Barclays last season.
Pinson had seven of North Carolina’s 24 assists on 28 field goals as the Tar Heels cut up Duke’s zone most of the night. Joel Berry II had 13 points and six assists and Kenny Williams had 10 and six. Maye rebounded from a 1-for-15 shooting performance in the quarterfinals against Miami to shoot 8 of 18 with 10 rebounds and four assists.
Marvin Bagley III followed up his 33-point, 17-rebound game against Notre Dame on Thursday with 19 points and 13 rebounds for Duke. Fellow freshmen Trent added 20 points and Wendell Carter Jr. had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Brooks went down hard and stayed down in the backcourt as North Carolina scored. Officials stopped play and went to the courtside monitor to check a replay. Allen clearly stuck his backside out enough to bump the unsuspecting Brooks while 6-foot-9 freshman was in the middle of a stride. Brooks was OK and made two free throws with 52.7 second left.
“He was just running by me, I kind of feel like he stuck his leg out,” Brooks said. “But that’s what he does.”
“Yeah, they got a fast break and I bumped him and fouled him,” said Allen, who was reprimanded by the ACC for tripping two opponents in his sophomore season. He was stripped of his captaincy by Duke for another trip as a junior.
“That was another foul in a game,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Do you think that was the only time someone was hipped in the game? If you look at the low post, it’s going on all the time.”
BIG PICTURENorth Carolina: A night after Duke earned its 100th ACC Tournament victory, the Tar Heels did the same and put themselves in position to earn a 19th conference championship. That would leave them one behind Duke for the most.
Duke: The Blue Devils had six turnovers on their first 14 possessions and just one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the game. North Carolina led by as much as 13 points, before Bagley got going and scored eight points in the last 10 minutes.
UP NEXTNorth Carolina: The Tar Heels scored 49 points in a home loss to Virginia on Jan. 6
Duke: The Blue Devils will find out Sunday if it did enough to earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
“I think we have a chance to do well in the tournament,” Coach K said. “We’ll just find out Sunday where we’re going and be 0-0 and go for it.”
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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.