DURHAM– Duke Week is here. And the women are first up with the 17-6 Tar Heels, 5-4 in the ACC, traveling over to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on the 22-2 Blue Devils, 9-1 in conference, Monday night at 7 p.m
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The Tar Heels will desperately want to win the game Monday night for two reasons: to snap a three-game losing skid and to beat their primary rival Duke.
UNC Athletics spokesman Mark Kimmel says there’s been a fine line between winning and losing for Carolina.
“I think it just comes down to execution – a couple more defensive stops, a couple more free throws in a timely fashion. You’re probably talking about a couple wins instead of a couple losses,” Kimmel says.
Making those clutch plays necessary to turn wins into losses may rest on the shoulders of freshman star Diamond DeShields, but in the last contest at Georgia Tech, DeShields found herself in severe foul trouble in the second half, limiting her freedom to play her usual game.
Kimmel says the narrow defeats at the hands of the Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes have a lot to do with Carolina’s inability to come up with key defensive stops.
“If you’re not able to get those precious defensive stops at the right time, you’re going to come up short. And that’s what’s happened,” Kimmel says.
Duke comes into the game off a 78-51 romp at Clemson and now boasts an impressive 22-2 overall record on the season. The statistics suggest a deadlocked matchup with both the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels averaging 83 points per game and both shoot 65 percent from the free throw line.
The one deciding factor could be perimeter shooting. The Blue Devils own a clear edge in that department shooting better than 40 percent from behind the arc while the Tar Heels only manage to convert 32 percent of the time from three-point range.
But Kimmel says you can throw out the stat sheets and records for an intense rivalry game like this one. After all, it’s Duke-Carolina.
“It’s a rivalry game. Sometimes, you just throw out those stats and records out the door when those two teams play together,” Kimmel says.
The UNC-Duke game will be broadcast on 97.9 FM, WCHL and televised nationally on ESPN2.