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Top 10 Duke-North Carolina Moments in Chapel Hill
Courtesy: Al Featherston,
Release: 02/10/2010
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Shane Battier had back-to-back 25-point performances in Duke wins over North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 2000 and 2001.
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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DURHAM, N.C. – Duke lost its first visit to the Dean E. Smith Center in 1986, but the gigantic, bubble-topped arena hasn’t been a House of Horrors for the Blue Devils – certainly not compared to previous Tar Heel homecourt.
Duke has a 12-14 record on UNC’s home floor, headed into Wednesday night’s trip to Chapel Hill. That’s 10-14 against the Tar Heels. Two wins came in the 1988 NCAA Tournament, when the Blue Devils opened their Final Four run with early round victories over Boston University and SMU.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team has actually won seven of its last 11 trips to the Smith Center and has won every previous even-numbered year in this decade (2000-2002-2004-2006-2008).
That record stands in sharp contrast to Duke’s long run of futility on UNC’s previous homecourt – Carmichael Auditorium. Vic Bubas’ 1966 Final Four team won Duke’s first trip to Dean Smith’s new palace and Mike Krzyzewski – helped by a 34-point performance by Johnny Dawkins – beat Smith and the Tar Heels in Duke’s final Carmichael trip in 1985.
But in between, Duke lost 18 straight games in Carmichael.
In recent years, Duke has had more success against the Tar Heels in the Smith Center than in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Since 2006, Duke is 2-2 in Chapel Hill and 0-4 in Cameron. The current Blue Devil upperclassmen were all part of Duke’s 89-78 win on UNC’s home floor two years ago and North Carolina’s fifth-year senior Marcus Ginyard also played in Duke’s 87-83 win in the Smith Center in 2006.
So Duke has had its share of memorable moments on North Carolina’s home floor. Here’s one writer’s opinion of the 10 most memorable Chapel Hill moments in the rivalry:
Jan. 9, 1946
Duke outscored UNC 6-1 in overtime to take a 51-46 victory in Woollen Gym over a North Carolina team that would reach the NCAA title game. All-American Ed Koffenberger and 6-foot-1 forward John Seward each scored 14 points to offset 14 points by UNC All-American John “Hook” Dillon and 11 by All-American Jim Jordan.
Oddly, UNC would go on to receive an NCAA bid, even though the Blue Devils would beat Wake Forest to win the 1946 Southern Conference championship.
One more note: The overtime win in 1946 was Duke’s fifth straight victory in Chapel Hill – the longest Blue Devil road winning streak in the rivalry. Duke has since won four straight in Chapel Hill twice (1952-54 and 1999-2002).
Jan. 9, 1957
Duke came as close as anybody to spoiling UNC’s perfect 32-0 national championship season.
The Tar Heels, playing before an overflow crowd at Woollen Gym, led most of the way and seemed to be safe with a 73-65 lead with less than two minutes to play. But one month earlier, guard Bobby Joe Harris had spearheaded a frantic full court press that had helped Duke rally from nine-points down with two minutes left to beat Kentucky. Against the mighty Tar Heels, Harris almost did it again – his back-to-back steals and assists to guard Bob Vernon tied the game at 73-all with 24 seconds left.
Then Harris made a mistake. UNC’s scoreboard at that time was hand-operated and in the frenzy of the moment, the Tar Heel student working the scoreboard forgot to flip the score. Harris looked up and saw that Duke was still trailing by two, so he intentionally fouled UNC’s Tommy Kearns with 16 seconds left.
Kearns hit the two free throws to give UNC a 75-73 win.
“I lost the game and on purpose, but I didn’t know it at the time,” Harris told reporters. “I wouldn’t have fouled him if I had known it was tied. They didn’t beat us. The scorekeeper did.”
The game in Chapel Hill was Duke’s only chance to spoil that perfect UNC season. When the two teams met again in Durham on March 1, the Tar Heels coasted to a relatively lopsided 86-72 victory.

March 2, 1974
Duke, en route to a dismal 10-16 record under interim coach Neil McGeachy, had no business beating No. 4 ranked UNC in Chapel Hill.
But with 17 seconds left, the underdog Blue Devils – getting heroic performances from Willie Hodge, Chris Redding, Bob Fleischer and Kevin Billerman (who set a school record with 14 assists that day) – led 86-78.
With many of the 8,800 fans in Carmichael filing out to beat the traffic, UNC fought back. Bobby Jones hit two free throws to cut the Duke lead to six. Two straight Blue Devil turnovers on inbounds plays allowed UNC to cut the lead to two points. With four seconds left, Duke’s Pete Kramer went to the foul line for a one-and-one. When he missed the first shot, UNC rebounded and called timeout.
The inbounds pass went to freshman Walter Davis near midcourt. He took one dribble and launched a long shot (although not as long as it’s become in UNC mythology) that banked in to tie the game and force overtime. Although Duke took a quick four-point lead in the extra period, UNC prevailed, winning 96-92.
The next day in practice, Davis attempted to duplicate the game-tying shot, but (according to Smith) couldn’t hit it again.
Feb. 25, 1978
Phil Ford’s senior day would turn into the greatest performance in the career of one of the ACC’s greatest players. But it would also be the launching pad for a young Duke team that would take the nation by storm.
No. 8 North Carolina was heavily favored in front of the home crowd in Carmichael Auditorium over the youthful Blue Devils, who came in riding a five-game winning streak.
Ford was magnificent with 34 points, five assists and two steals, but even with strong help from Al Wood (19 points) and Mike O’Koren (14 points), the Tar Heels couldn’t shake their stubborn rivals. Duke shot 57 percent and got stellar performances from junior guard Jim Spanarkel (23 points), sophomore center Mike Gminski (21 points) and freshman forward Gene Banks (25 points, 9 rebounds).
It took all of Ford’s brilliance to hold off the Devils down the stretch and to give UNC its 87-83 victory.
However, it was Duke that came out of the game with all the momentum in the world. UNC would lose in the ACC Tournament semifinals and in its NCAA opener, while Duke stormed to the ACC championship in Greensboro, then made an improbable run to the NCAA championship game before losing again.
Jan. 19, 1985
The timing wasn’t great for 12-2 Duke, which was coming off back-to-back overtime losses in the ACC – including a grueling 91-89 loss to Wake Forest less than 48 hours before.
The Blue Devils had just one day to prepare, but they also remembered their previous visit to Carmichael, when they ended the 1984 regular season with a bitter double-overtime loss to the Tar Heels.
This one was close for a half, but Johnny Dawkins absolutely dominated the final 20 minutes. The lithe junior guard contributed 34 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals to Duke’s lopsided 93-77 victory. The Blue Devils also got a double-double from junior center Jay Bilas (17 points, 11 rebounds) and a 19-point performance from junior forward Mark Alarie.
The 16-point win was just Duke’s second-ever victory in Carmichael, snapping an 18-game losing streak to the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill and providing the perfect symmetry to Duke’s Carmichael experience – Duke won its first and its last visits to the 8,800-seat arena, but lost every other trip in between.
Jan. 18, 1986
UNC’s gaudy new Smith Center was supposed to open more than a year earlier, but construction delays forced the opener back to Duke’s 1986 visit to Chapel Hill.
It seemed a perfect matchup – No. 1 and unbeaten UNC vs. No. 3 and unbeaten Duke.
Although the game was tightly contested, the Tar Heels led most of the way – exploiting Duke’s pressure man-to-man defense for a number of backdoor baskets. Guard Steve Hale had a career day with 28 points, while big man Brad Daugherty added 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Duke stayed close with 25 points from senior David Henderson and 22 from senior guard Johnny Dawkins. Late in the game, they staged a frantic rally to cut a double-digit UNC lead to three points, but that was as close as it got as the Heels closed out a 96-93 victory.
The Blue Devils would lose again the next time out, falling in Atlanta to No. 4 ranked Georgia Tech. But that would be it – Duke would win 21 straight games to claim the ACC regular season title, the ACC Tournament championship, the final No. 1 ranking (the first in school history) and give Coach Mike Krzyzewski his first trip to the Final Four.
Jan. 21, 1988
Duke’s chances didn’t look too good heading to the Smith Center for their 1988 meeting with No. 2 ranked North Carolina. The No. 9 Blue Devils were coming off a dispiriting homecourt loss to Maryland and appeared to have little offense beyond junior star Danny Ferry.
But what the ’88 Devils did have was defense – maybe the best overall defense in the Krzyzewski era. Although UNC star J.R. Reid abused the smaller Devils inside for 28 points, with UNC down a single point in the final minute, he couldn’t get the ball when it counted. Duke, which got 19 points from Ferry and a vital 22 points from Kevin Strickland, tenaciously held on to its 70-69 lead.
UNC missed three straight shots, failing to take the lead, but got the ball back for one last chance. A second before the buzzer sounded, sharpshooting guard Jeff Lebo launched a potential game-winner from the left baseline. His shot was blocked by 6-foot-5 jumping jack Robert Brickey as Duke claimed the first of three victories over the Tar Heels in 1988.
The last of the three game sweep came in the ACC title game and again turned on a blocked shot – as guard Quin Snyder blocked a breakaway layup that would have tied the game in the final seconds.
Feb. 3, 2000
One year earlier, Duke’s No. 1 ranked Blue Devils closed out a 16-0 ACC regular season with a lopsided 81-61 victory in Chapel Hill. A week later, the ’99 Devils routed UNC again in the ACC title game in Charlotte.
It looked like more of the same in the first 2000 meeting as the No. 3 ranked Devils raced to a 19-point lead over the struggling Tar Heels. But senior guard Ed Cota and freshman swing man Joe Forte, who combined for 41 points, brought UNC all the way back. Forte hit a tough 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.
The rally energized the normally lethargic Smith Center crowd and put the heat on a Duke team that had beaten 26 straight ACC opponents. But the Blue Devils responded, scoring 14 points on their first six overtime possessions (including a three-pointer from Shane Battier and a three-point play by Chris Carrawell) to regain the lead. Sophomore Mike Dunleavy clinched the 90-86 win with two free throws with four seconds left.
Battier finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Carrawell added 23 points and five assists in the second of four straight Blue Devil wins in the Smith Center.
March 4, 2001
The outlook wasn’t bright for No. 2 Duke heading to Chapel Hill for a matchup with No. 4 North Carolina in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Blue Devils, crippled by the broken foot that sidelined starting center Carlos Boozer four days earlier in a homecourt loss to Maryland, appeared to be reeling. No outsiders guessed that Krzyzewski would pull off the most brilliant tactical coup of his career.
He replaced Boozer with slender sophomore Casey Sanders. More importantly – and more unexpectedly – he replaced veteran Nate James in the starting lineup with freshman Chris Duhon, adding quickness to his defense and better ballhandling. Coach K also unleashed his three-point shooters. In the four days since the Maryland loss, the Duke players went from depression to an eager sense of anticipation.
“I’ll never forget the look on Brendon Haywood’s face when Casey stepped into the jumpball circle,” Shane Battier later told writer Donald Phillips. “He got this sarcastic smile on his face and started shaking his head. He was thinking, ‘You’re starting this guy?’ I looked over at Mike [Dunleavy] and we smiled at each other. We were thinking, ‘Haywood, you don’t know what’s coming. You don’t know.’”
Duke launched 38 3-pointers that afternoon, hitting 14. UNC outscored the Devils 60-53 on 2-point field goals and free throws, but Duke enjoyed a 42-21 edge on 3-point tries and that was enough to give Krzyzewski’s team a 95-81 victory and a share of the ACC regular season title.
One week later in Atlanta, Duke used the same tactics to rout the Heels 79-53 in the ACC championship game. Krzyzewski’s inspired tactical change propelled the Devils to 10 straight victories – and to the 2001 national championship.
Feb. 6, 2008
The ’08 matchup in the Smith Center was a collision of heavyweights – No. 2 ranked Duke were 20-1 and the No. 3 ranked Tar Heels were a gaudy 21-1.
The Blue Devils seized a narrow early lead on some brilliant three-point shooting by Greg Paulus. The junior point guard would hit 6-of-8 three-point tries on the night as the game shaped up as a duel between UNC’s inside strength (Tyler Hansbrough finished with 28 points and 18 rebounds) and Duke’s perimeter firepower.
Paulus’ 18-point performance was backed by 14 points and 10 rebounds from freshman Kyle Singler, plus 17 points and six rebounds from super sixth man Jon Scheyer. Duke also got 10 points and five rebounds from sophomore Lance Thomas.
The Blue Devils hit 13 of 29 three-point tries in the game – 10 more than the cold-shooting Tar Heels – and controlled the game down the stretch en route to an 89-78 victory.