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Big battle in Chapel Hill

After a tough loss at home to No. 24 Maryland Wednesday, things will not be getting any easier for Duke.

Eight miles down Tobacco Road waits hated rival No. 8 North Carolina, whom the No. 14 Blue Devils (22-8, 8-7 in the ACC) will face in the Dean E. Smith Center Sunday in their final regular-season game.

Feb. 7, the Tar Heels (24-6, 10-5) came into Cameron Indoor Stadium and walked out with a 79-73 victory. Duke led for the game's first 35 minutes, but missed open shots and free throws by the Blue Devils down the stretch allowed North Carolina to claw its way back.

"[North Carolina is] very, very talented, and the depth they have means that they never take a break," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the teams' first meeting. "They have guys who have won, and they have a coach who knows how to win."

In the teams' first meeting, Duke was able to slow down the Tar Heels' transition offense in the first half and led by five points at the break. The lead swelled to as many as 10 points early in the second frame, but the Blue Devils could not sustain the advantage.

Duke shot 3-for-10 from the foul line in the second half and allowed the Tar Heels to take advantage of forward Josh McRoberts' foul trouble. North Carolina star forward Tyler Hansbrough was held to only four points in the first half, but he put a major dent into the Blue Devil defense scoring 12 points in the second.

This time around, Duke must find a way to force the Tar Heels into taking tough shots throughout the entire contest. The Blue Devils were able to do that in the first half in the teams' first meeting, but allowed North Carolina to shoot almost 60 percent from the field after halftime.

The game also marks the sixth consecutive Sunday that Duke will be on the court. The Blue Devils had games scheduled on Sundays only four times last season-only one of which was on the road. With a final test awaiting in the Dean Dome Sunday, Krzyzewski is proud of how his team has handled its unusual schedule.

"We're 22-8 and we have had as tough a schedule as anybody in the country," he said. "If you would look at on the road, Sundays.... This team has been put through a ringer, and it's done a great job. My team has done a great job."

Duke has played well in recent weeks, but the sting of the Maryland loss means that the Blue Devils will be reeling for the second straight time going into a game against their bitter rivals-Duke dropped a 67-66 heartbreaker to Florida State at home three days before the first match-up with the Tar Heels.

After the first loss to North Carolina, guard Greg Paulus said he wanted to remember the way he was feeling so he would not have to deal with it again. As the team heads toward the ACC Tournament next week, the Blue Devils would love nothing more than to pass those feelings straight off to the Tar Heels.


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