CHAPEL HILL—After getting off to a roaring 14-6 start, Duke's offense sputtered and the Tar Heels settled down and made sure this contest didn't go the way of the way of the Wake Forest game earlier this week, taking a 33-31 lead into the locker room at the Dean E. Smith Center.
The main contributor for North Carolina was forward Brice Johnson, who used the break-neck pace of the game to get out in transition and make things happen offensively. Johnson finished the half with 11 points and three rebounds. Duke's leading scorer is Quinn Cook, who knocked home 13 points in the period.
With Duke in control for most of the first half, it was a Marcus Paige triple with 6:13 in the half that finally put the Tar Heels in front, much to the delight of the powder-blue clad fans. Paige's 3-pointer was part of a 12-0 run that gave the Tar Heels a six-point lead.
Observations from the first half:
- The environment proved to be hostile at the very start of this one, with the Carolina faithful getting loud on the first possession thanks to a Johnson transition dunk.
- As per tradition, head coach Roy Williams started his seniors for North Carolina's last home game, which meant Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks were relegated to the bench to make room for Jackson Simmons and Luke Davis.
- For Duke, it was Tyus Jones who controlled the pace early, racking up points, assists and rebounds at a fast clip. He finished the half with seven points, four assists and six boards.
- Meeks found himself in foul trouble early on, but Jahlil Okafor was unable to truly take advantage of the absence of the Tar Heel center. Okafor scored just four points in the half.
- Duke slogged through one of its all-too-common scoring droughts midway through the first half, at one point making just one of 17 field goals and missing 12 straight. The Blue Devils were scoreless for 6:57 in the latter portion of the half.
- After carrying the team against Wake Forest, the combination of Matt Jones and Grayson Allen went scoreless in the first half Saturday.
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