With the victory, Duke improved to 24-7 overall and 13-5 in conference action. The Blue Devils also finished off a perfect season at home.
Freshman sensation Jabari Parker scored 30 points, the most by any Duke freshman against Carolina.
“I thought it was a tough night for us. I think listening to Mike’s (Coach K) comments after the last game, they didn’t have “it”. I agree with him. It’s hard to say what “it” is, but whatever the hell it is, Jabari found it,” UNC Head Coach Roy Williams says.
Carolina’s Marcus Paige led the way for the Tar Heels with 24 points while Brice Johnson posted 15 of his own.
James Michael McAdoo got into severe foul trouble, picking up his fourth foul just one minute into the second half. His loss hampered the Tar Heels, but they managed to shoot 59.6 percent from the floor, the best all season.
The game was tight at the half, 40-37 in favor of Duke, thanks to some gritty play by the Tar Heels and poor shooting from behind the arc by the Blue Devils, going 2-13.
The second half, though, was a different story. Duke knocked down 6-10 three-pointers to pull away from Carolina and then hold on down the stretch with impressive foul shooting. Duke converted on 87.1 percent of its free throws.
After the game, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski credited his team’s rebounding advantage as a key to the victory. The Blue Devils outrebounded the Tar Heels 34-20.
Duke drew first blood with a score by Rodney Hood and Andrew Dawkins was next to score for the Blue Devils to give the home team the 4-0 lead.
McAdoo put the first points on the board for Carolina with a physical play inside. But Duke answered immediately to take the 7-2 lead with 17:30 to play in the half.
Tokoto knocked down a smooth jumper to close the gap down to three points. Dawkins sunk one on the other end and drew the foul, making the point after to give Duke the 10-4 lead.
With 15:43 to play in the half, the Blue Devils held the 10-4 advantage. Turnovers were traded back and forth, until Duke broke the run with an inside score to take the 12-4 lead.
Brice Johnson cleaned up a rebound and tossed it in for a score to end a long drought for the Tar Heels. The defensive intensity by Duke was making life difficult for Carolina. Head Coach Roy Williams called a timeout.
A Johnson dunk briefly silenced the crowd. With 11:12 to play in the half, Duke had a 19-10 lead against UNC.
McAdoo knocked down a couple important free throws, but Carolina was finding it tough to stop the Blue Devil offensive attach. McAdoo nailed down a jumper as the shot clock was running out to close UNC within four.
McAdoo worked his way to the free throw line by pressing the issue in the paint. He knocked down both foul shots. Carolina trailed Duke 29-25 with 5:13 to go before halftime.
Carolina got some help from Paige and Johnson down the stretch as the halftime scoreboard read 40-37 in favor of the Blue Devils.
Duke only managed to shoot at a 15.4 percent clip from behind the arc while UNC shot 61.9 percent from the floor.
James Michael McAdoo recorded 11 points, but collected three fouls in the first half. Duke’s Jabari Parker tallied a team-leading 16 points.
Parker opened the second half with a make to ignite the Cameron crowd. And a sloppy turnover by UNC’s Johnson followed.
McAdoo picked up his fourth foul just one minute into the second half and promptly took a seat on the bench. Hood darted to the basket, making the shot and converting on the point after for a three-point play. The Blue Devils held a 47-39 lead with 17:08 to play.
Kennedy Meeks went up soft inside and failed to get the basket to go, handing the ball back to Duke. With 16:26 to play, the Blue Devils held a 50-39 lead before McDonald popped a jumper through the nets to reduce the deficit back down to single digits.
Nate Britt hit a mid-range shot to keep UNC within shouting distance at 55-44 with 14:51 to play in the contest.
Cook’s run-out score pushed the Blue Devil lead out to 59-44 with 14:22 to play.
McDonald knocked down a three-pointer to close the Duke lead down to 13 points with 13:07 remaining. And Paige followed that score up with a determined make and Duke called a timeout up 62-51 with 12:44 to play.
Rodney Hood hit a wide-open three-pointer for Duke as the Carolina defense failed to contest the shot.
Joel James threw the ball away for an easy Duke score in transition. The game was quickly getting away from the Tar Heels.
Parker hit a jumper that slid through the nets off the rim to give Duke the 71-53 lead with 9:36 left to play.
Parker sniped another shot from behind the arc to push the Blue Devil lead out to 74-55 with 8 minutes remaining.
With 5:55 remaining in the game, Carolina trailed Duke 77-61. McAdoo responded with a quick score off the backboard.
Tokoto found an open lane and scored driving to the basket to cut the deficit down to 12 points with 3:55 on the clock.
Carolina cut the Duke lead down to ten points off a Johnson make inside. Britt committed a costly foul after the shot clock was drained all the way down. Duke’s Cook made both of them.
Paige converted on a three-point play to cut the Duke lead down to 81-73 with 2:41 to play.
The Carolina defense stiffened, causing a Duke turnover, but Paige’s shot fell short for the Tar Heels. Cook was fouled on the other end and knocked down both free throws to extend the lead back out to ten.
Parker battled his way to line, converting on both foul shots to give the Blue Devils full command of the contest yet again at 86-73 with 1:51 to play.
Paige fought admirably down the stretch, but the deficit was too much for the Tar Heels to overcome.
Next up for the Tar Heels is the ACC Tournament quarterfinals in Greensboro Friday. Carolina will be the fourth seed.