POSTGAME: Waiting for K right now, as members of the UNC sports info department announced he would speak to the press first regardless of result. Lots of people still in the stands as the Tar Heel seniors are being honored as I type. All-in-all, Duke didn't play a terrible game, but right now, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone to claim that North Carolina isn't the superior team. The Tar Heels' inside game is sick-nasty, and I think Deon Thompson is probably the best pro-prospect on the roster. As has become the status quo this season, Hansbrough led the Tar Heels in scoring (with 17 points)—but he seems to be doing it a lot more quietly than he used to, as Ty Lawson has been getting much of the ACC Player of the Year hype as of late. For the Blue Devils, I feel as if the storyline is getting a bit repetitive: not enough inside game, hard to defend explosive/athletic teams. Also, something I mentioned in my column Friday was Duke's opponent's field goal average, which is in the bottom three in the league. Guess what? The Tar Heels shot a blistering 52.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc. Hard to beat a team that (you let) shoot at a 50+ clip for a game. That's all I've got for now. Log onto www.dukechronicle.com in the next few hours to read stories from yours truly and Gabe Starosta.
DUKE 69, UNC 79 :29.4 remaining in the second half: The Dean Dome erupts as Tyler Hansbrough goes to the line. The loudest I've heard a stadium in quite some time. This game is all but over, as Gerald misses two FTs at the other end. I'll be back postgame with my final thoughts. Also, major props to the Computer Battery Life Miracle—a battery that was only supposed to last 40 minutes lasted eight days and eight nights!
DUKE 69, UNC 76 1:03 remaining in the second half: Ty Lawson takes Jon Scheyer in what looked like the mismatch of the century. Lawson converts on the free throw after making the bucket and it seems like that might be the game. Would have been a totally different story if Singler hadn't stepped out of bounds after a huge board to give UNC back the ball.
DUKE 68, UNC 73 1:50 remaining in the second half: Deon Thompson just picked up his fourth foul on a block of Kyle Singler. Duke hasn't had the lead since it was 41-40 at the very beginning of the second period. Every time the Blue Devils seem to chip close to the Tar Heel lead, UNC makes a play and finds a way to open it up. That being said, it's a five point game and there's plenty of time left, particularly if Singler makes these.
DUKE 63, UNC 70 4:10 remaining in the second half: Here's the thing about taking long threes—they lead to long rebounds, which could prove deadly in close games (as in just a few seconds ago a long Singler miss turned into an easy Ellington transition bucket). Like, a minute ago, Duke pulled it within two, then UNC opened up the lead to seven. Jeez.
BATTERY-LIFE UPDATE: I'm officially in the red. Trying to conserve for the end of the game. Sit tight, kids.
DUKE 55, UNC 61 7:50 remaining in the second half: Tar Heel fans ain't happy after Jon Scheyer got fouled on a post move from the left side of the bucket—they wanted travel, instead they've got media timeout and a return with JSchey at the line. Other big plays of note over the past two minutes would be a Danny Green running, deep two-pointer to put the Tar Heels up 61-55. In the great words of my friend Gabriel, "Duke is still in it," even though for stretches this half, it appears as if the team shouldn't be. All the Carolina players are being shown on the Jumbotron, with a "Make some noise" graphic and the UNC faithful are lovin' it.
DUKE 55, UNC 59 9:13 remaining in the second half: Duke 30-second timeout. Tyler drains a 12-foot J over Singler with authority, then Singler comes back and does about the same on the other end of the floor. Guess you can never speak too soon when the game features the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. Duke's hangin' in there.
DUKE 51, UNC 57 11:18 remaining in the second half: Since last time we spoke, there have been two "uh-oh" plays that could really mean bad news for a Duke team that looks to be losing this battle right now. The first was a Ty Lawson coast-to-coast drive in which he beat Elliot Williams and then Dave McClure to draw a foul, then made two FTs to put the Heels up 55-48 woth 12:44 left in the half. Singler came back to drain a three to quiet the crowd for a bit (his first bucked in recent memory). But then with just more than 12 minutes left in the half, Duke blew a huge 4-on-1 break opportunity. Singler was coming down the left side of the court and had three Blue Devils to his right. Gerald was one bounce pass away from a monster slam that would have brought Duke within two. Instead, Kyle kept the ball and committed an offensive foul. That might be the real game changer right there. Still a lot of time left, though, so we'll see how it goes.
DUKE 41, UNC 45 16:57 remaining in the second half: Me: "This team could really wear us down." Gabe: "It's entirely possible." Ty Lawson just nailed a pull-up J, and my very first thought was, this could be real trouble. If Lawson turns it on, it would add a whole different element to a game that is already super-intense. The timeout was a good one on K's part, though, because UNC looked to be building some serious mo' and Duke looked like, well, it wasn't. Let's see what the Blue Devils do out of the timeout. Also of note, Singler missed a wide-open three—and as we noticed at half, did not score in the last 9+ minutes of the first.
SEAN MAY UPDATE, HALFTIME PART DEUX: Just saw May in the tunnel; still appears as if he eats babies.
DUKE 39, UNC 38 HALFTIME: So, this game is turning out to be everything it should be. Singler leads all scorers with 15 points in 20 minutes of play to go with two boards, an assist and a block. As Dan Patrick would say, the sophomore is en fuego. Henderson had eight points, and though he didn't play his best half of basketball, he sure played tough, with some gritty muscle shots under the basket and a couple of free throws. For the Tar Holes Heels, Lawson has been a conspicuous non-factor in terms of scoring (I wonder if he's still being bothered by that toe injury he incurred the other day in practice) and the rest of the scoring has really been distributed across the roster. The power frontcourt grouping of Thompson, Hansbrough and Davis has combined for 23 of the teams 38 points. Right now, neither team seems to be able to create separation, but it's been some great basketball, so I can't complain. Stick around, kids. We've got another half from the Dean Dome coming your way after this brief, blogtastic break.
WRITER'S NOTE: There are no outlets in the plebian press row, so I'm going to try to keep my battery alive long enough to keep with you all, but we could be cutting it close.
DUKE 35, UNC 32 3:33 remaining in the first half: Well friends, we've got ourselves a ballgame here. Elliot Williams stroked a rare three (Hi, Taylor!), G is drawing fouls and getting to the line... and Kyle is still feelin' it. The Tar Heels, though, are coming back just as strong, with contributions from a wide array of players, including Tyler Hansbrough, Bobby Frasor, Davis, Thompson—the whole annoying gamut minus, most notably, Ty Lawson. Should be an interesting three minutes before half. It would behoove the Blue Devils to have a lead at the half, although when it's Duke-UNC, anything is possible (TM Kevin Garnett).
DUKE 20, UNC 23 9:44 remaining in the first half: Gabe, "Duke looks like my team yesterday... totally asleep." If it makes you feel any better, Gabe says they came back to win. It looked for a bit like Duke was building up some mo', but let's just say the Tar Heel fans have had a lot to cheer about—they just showed Michael Jordan, Sean May, Jerry Stackhouse, and Raymond Felton behind the bench. The roar for MJ came close to that when Tyler hit another three to put the UNC score where it is now and bring the crowd to its feet. Right now, Kyle Singler seems to be all Duke has going for it, as he's scored 15 of the team's 20, including three treys.
DUKE 5, UNC 9 15:30 remaining in the first half: Larry Brown just got announced to the crowd to a good round of applause—but not as big of a crowd response as the trey bomb Tyler Hansbrough just dropped on Duke. Singler had just hit a wide-open three for Duke, and Tyler drained one from almost the exact same spot on the very next touch. Overall, it was a pretty ugly and sloppy first four and a half minutes. G has been a total non-factor. I bet K has some choice words for his guys this break.
PREGAME UPDATE2: Roy Williams puts all of his seniors on the floor right before tip (eight guys in all) and they clear out quickly—G wins the jump though amid the craziness. Danny Green's got G on D.
PREGAME UPDATE: Duke starting lineup: Singler, Henderson, Thomas, Scheyer, Williams—I guess Lance is feeling just fine. UNC starters: Mike Copeland, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson—I guess he's OK, too—and Bobby Frasor.
PREGAME: Welcome boys and girls to the cozy Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. My name is Meredith, and I'll be taking care of all your blog needs this afternoon with my partner in crime, Gabe Starosta. You'll have to bear with us, as the friendly and hospitable folks up here have put us in the boons of the Dome and our wireless is blocked by... welll... a giant cement block awning. But we'll try our best to provide you with the best coverage possible as the No. 2 Tar Heels look to secure a victory on Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green's Senior Night over the No. 7 Blue Devils. In terms of injury status updates, Ty Lawson shot around the Dome earlier but did not emerge from the tunnel with his team before tip and is said to be a gametime decision. A Duke Athletics official said he expects to see Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek, who suffered an ankle injury and broken nose against FSU, respectively, to get minutes tonight (FYI, for those of you at home keeping score, Zoubek is not sporting the Rip Hamilton/Lucius Harris power mask). In other news, I almost got trampled by Pschyo T in the tunnel. No joke. He was this close to smushing my face so badly it would have looked like his. Whoops. Alright friends, that's it for now. Stick with us. It could be a good one (Gerald, if you're reading this on your blackberry, PLEASE make this a good one).
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