DURHAM, N.C. – Ty Lawson scored 21 of his season-high 25 points in the second half while helping No. 3 North Carolina rally past No. 6 Duke 101-87 on Wednesday night.
Tyler Hansbrough scored 17 points for the Tar Heels (22-2, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who won their eighth straight while becoming the first team in nine seasons to hit triple digits against Duke.
They came on strong down the stretch, using late runs of 25-11 and 14-0 to first take the lead for good and then stretch it to 17. In the process, they snapped the Blue Devils' 14-game home court winning streak while claiming first place in the ACC standings.
Wayne Ellington and Danny Green added 15 points apiece. Green and Hansbrough joined former Wake Forest standouts Tim Duncan and Rusty LaRue as the only players to beat Mike Krzyzewski four straight times on the Cameron court that now bears his name.
"Each year it's been different," Hansbrough said. "Our freshman year, no one thought we could come in here and win. ... Tonight was one of those things where you didn't want to think about the record. We just wanted to come out and play."
Kyle Singler scored 22 points and Jon Scheyer added 20 to lead Duke (20-4, 7-3), which kept up with the uptempo Tar Heels for about 30 minutes before spiraling to its fifth loss in six meetings with the hated rival located 8 miles down Tobacco Road.
"In the second half, we kind of had the mindset that we were going to outscore them," Singler said. "But you're not going to outscore Carolina."
Gerald Henderson finished with 17 points — but was just 1-for 9 in the second half, and that's when they let this one get away.
Duke led 56-48 in the early moments of the half before North Carolina took command, with Hansbrough hitting a short jumper with just under 18 minutes remaining. That started the Lawson-led 25-11 burst in which the efficient Tar Heels took the lead for good, coming away with points on 12 of 15 trips downcourt.
"We did not hit shots for a short period of time there," Krzyzewski said. "And they did, and they got away from us."
Then, Lawson gave North Carolina all the separation it needed a short while later, when he scored nine of the 12 straight points reeled off by the Tar Heels. His three-point play with 3:42 remaining put them up 88-71.
"We didn't think they could stay in front of us," Lawson said. "I just knew I could get to the basket."
That came two possessions after Hansbrough pulled up over David McClure and knocked down a 3-pointer; three seasons ago, Hansbrough hit a 3 at Cameron that he still insists is his favorite shot.
That put the Tar Heels well on their way to their first 100-point performance in the rivalry since their thrilling 102-100 double-overtime victory in 1995 — also the last time Duke allowed triple digits at Cameron — while helping them become the first visiting team to win here since they did it last March.
"We come to Duke to win these games," said red-eyed senior guard Greg Paulus, whose career will end without a home victory over the Tar Heels. "It hurts. It really does, and now I don't get another chance to do it at home."
Nolan Smith added 11 points for Duke, which allowed 100 points for the first time since a 109-100 victory over Virginia in January 2000. It lost for the third time in the five games that followed its first appearance at No. 1 in the nation since 2006.
For a while, though, it looked like the Blue Devils might be the first team to 100.
"The worst thing for us was to try to slow it completely down, and put your kids in a position where they're hesitant," Krzyzewski said. "You can't win when you're hesitant."
Duke shot 62 percent while coming on strong late during a first half that was rather miserable for the Tar Heels' top three players. Hansbrough, Lawson and Ellington were a combined 3-for-12 from the field, and Hansbrough, saddled with two fouls, was benched for the final 4:11.
Duke used a 22-5 run in which they hit 9-of-11 shots over a 5˝-minute span late in the first half — a run capped by Singler's baseline jumper with 4:55 remaining — to take a 40-34 lead.
The Blue Devils held North Carolina to two field goals over the half's final 7˝ minutes, then pushed their lead to 50-41 on Scheyer's free throw with 46.4 seconds left — the first time the Tar Heels allowed a team to score 50 in a half since December.
But that was well before they got back to the fast tempo that helped them take an early double-figure lead. North Carolina jumped out to a 20-10 lead roughly 5˝ minutes in after some remarkably efficient play in which it scored on 10 of 11 possessions.