With the first of two Duke/North Carolina match-ups a day away, I would like to take a look back at the last 30 years of this fabled rivalry.
These are my five most memorable games:
5) Feb 3, 2000 – Chapel Hill – Duke 90 UNC 86 (OT)
North Carolina was unranked for the first time in ten years and got behind big early, committed 14 turnovers, and trailed by 17 at half time.
They made a late run, scored on 19 of their last 22 possessions, and tied it up at 73 with five seconds left on a Joseph Forte three-pointer.
In OT, Duke scored on their first six possessions, and Carlos Boozer had seven points to lead the Blue Devils to victory.
Shane Battier scored 25 and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils, while UNC was paced by Ed Cota’s 21 and 8 assists.
This one stands out because UNC struggled most of the year; but this loss gave them reason to believe they could play with anyone, and Forte led them to an improbable run to the Final Four.
4) March 3, 1984 – Chapel Hill – UNC 96 Duke 83 (2 OT)
Senior night for three all-time UNC greats — Matt Doherty, Michael Jordan, and Sam Perkins.
This double OT thriller was a see-saw affair; after the Blue Devils missed the front end of a one-and-one, Doherty tied up the game with a 15-footer with a second left in regulation.
Jordan and Perkins dominated the second overtime, and the Tar Heels won by 13 and completed an undefeated ACC regular season. Jordan led the way with 25, and Mark Alarie had a game high 28 points in the loss for the Dukies.
This one stands out in my mind because it was the first rivalry game that I remember, and it wrapped up the career of three great UNC players in front of the home crowd. For Duke fans and coach Mike Krzyzewski, it was one of the first stepping-stones toward national prominence.
3) Feb 5, 2004 – Chapel Hill – Duke 83 UNC 81 (OT)
In Roy Williams’ first game as head coach in the Duke-Carolina rivalry, Chris Duhon’s layup with 6.5 seconds left in overtime gave Duke it’s fifth victory in the last six games on North Carolina’s home court.
Duke went on a late 10-0 run in regulation, taking a 72-69 lead on two free throws by Luol Deng with just over a minute left. After trading baskets, Jawad Williams hit a game-tying three-pointer with 18 seconds to go to force OT.
In OT, J.J. Redick made two free throws to put Duke up an 81-78, but Rashard McCants nailed a game-tying three only to be up-staged by Duhon.
Shelden Williams had 22 and 12 boards for Duke, while McCants poured in a game-high 27 and Sean May grabbed 21 rebounds.
This game signaled to me that the Tar Heels were back after the Doherty coaching debacle, and I was proven right 14 months later when UNC cut the nets down.
2) March 4, 2006 – Durham – UNC 83 Duke 76
Duke came into the game ranked #1 in the country. It was also the last home game for two of their all-time greats – J.J. Redick, the ACC’s all-time leading scorer at the time, and two-time National Defensive Player of the Year Shelden Williams.
UNC was the defending National Champs, but had lost basically their whole team from the year before and were led by freshman Tyler Hansbrough.
Duke jumped out to an early 13-2 lead as Redick hit his first five shots. However, the Tar Heels maintained their poise and trailed by just one at the half.
In the second half, the Tar Heels grabbed a big lead as Hansbrough and Reyshawn Terry got hot. Duke got within eight, but Hansbrough hit a 3 from 25 feet to beat the shot clock and put the final nail in the coffin.
Redick, to the delight of UNC fans, missed 15 of his last 16 shots. The game was watched by 3.78 million households, making it the most-viewed men’s college basketball game ever.
This games resonates for me because Redick went out a loser at home, and Hansbrough and Danny Green went on to finish their college careers undefeated at Cameron in part to this mild upset of #1 Duke as freshman.
1) February 2, 1995 – Durham – UNC 102 Duke 100 (2OT)
Coach K was out for the year, and the Blue Devils were in the midst of their worst season in well over a decade. UNC was led by future NBA All-Stars Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace, and raced out to a 26-9 first half lead.
But Duke took command in the second half and led by as much as 12 behind Jeff Capel and Steve Wojciechowski, before North Carolina had a comeback of their own. The lead changed four times in the last few minutes before heading into overtime.
With three seconds left in the first OT, Carolina led by three. Serge Zwikker then missed two free throws, setting up the shot that you will see ten times during any broadcast of a UNC/Duke game — Duke’s Jeff Capel hit a 37-foot shot at the buzzer to force another OT as the Cameron Crazies went ballistic.
In the second OT, Donald Williams and Jeff McInnis made key plays to put UNC up four late. Duke cut it to a bucket and got another stop to have a chance to force a third OT. But Wojo’s jumper missed and Greg Newton’s put back drew nothing but air, preserving Carolina’s 102-100 victory.
This is my all-time favorite because it shows the rivalry between these two storied programs – records don’t matter and the passion on both sides runs deep.
Because of that passion, I expect Wednesday’s matchup to be Another One For the Ages.