CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Greg Paulus scored 21 points and Gerald Henderson added a career-high 16 points but it wasn't enough for the No. 14 Duke men's basketball team (22-9, 8-8 ACC) as they fell to No. 8 North Carolina (25-6, 11-5) by a score of 86-72 Sunday here at the Dean Smith Center.
Paulus added five rebounds and four assists before fouling out late in the game while Henderson added six rebounds before he was ejected with 15 seconds left for a flagrant foul attempting to block a Tyler Hansbrough shot. DeMarcus Nelson scored 14 points while Jon Scheyer finished with 10 and Josh McRoberts had 10 rebounds and nine points.
"I had a chance to watch the play," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We'll take all responsibility, but if there's anyway Gerald Henderson did that intentionally, it's crazy. That's not the way he plays and that's not the way we play. He didn't extend his arm, he was hit somewhere on the forearm as Henderson was turning. I feel bad and we apologize to Tyler, but I know there was no intent to do that."
"He got our guys in the air and I came down on him," Henderson said. "It's unfortunate that it turned out like it did, but I wasn't trying to hurt him or anything."
Hansbrough led the Tar Heels with 26 points and 17 rebounds.
McRoberts scored the first points of the game less than a minute in but the Tar Hells then reeled off 12 straight to go up 12-2 less than five minutes in. Henderson then came off the bench and sparked the Blue Devils by scoring eight straight points and pulled the Blue Devils within four at 14-10.
Two three-pointers from Paulus and a jumper from Nelson brought Duke to within five at 27-22 before the Tar Heels opened up a 10 point advantage at 32-22. Paulus would hit a jumper and Nelson a three-pointer to bring a 13 point deficit just before the half down to nine points by halftime as UNC led 38-29.
Duke came out strong in the second half to come back and after Paulus hit another triple four minutes in, Duke had cut the lead to 46-40. Paulus' jumper with 13:38 left brought Duke to within two at 50-48, but that was as close as Duke would get. The Tar Heels used a 14-2 run to open up a 64-50 lead with just seven minutes left.
The two teams played evenly the rest of the way as the Blue Devils played hard to the final buzzer.
"We had some opportunities," Krzyzewski said. "and our kids played hard the whole game. I thought we played our hearts out."
Duke will now hold the No. 7 seed in the ACC Tournament, slated to begin Thursday in Tampa, Fla., and the Blue Devils will match-up against N.C. State at 7 p.m.