Duke edges North Carolina in Tobacco Road thriller

The Battle for Tobacco Road: A Recent History the Duke-North Carolina Rivalry

The Duke Blue Devils stole a win from the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

There might not be a bigger rivalry in college athletics, than the basketball rivalry between the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils. The two teams met in Chapel Hill on Wednesday, and it was another physical game between the two rivals.

The Blue Devils would have their depth tested all night against the Tar Heels. They lost guard Matt Jones early to an ankle issue and center Marshall Plumlee dealt with foul issues the entire night. While the Blue Devils certainly faced their share of issues early and often, that didn't deter them on the road.

They kept pace with the Tar Heels early. Grayson Allen and Luke Kenard really gave the North Carolina defense fits with their ability to get points on the board. Surprisingly enough, Brandon Ingram got off to a slow start and had an off-shooting night for the Devils.

Meanwhile for North Carolina, it was Brice Johnson, who stamped his legacy in the rivalry, with an incredible night for the Tar Heels. He was scoring points and grabbing boards all night to keep North Carolina ahead.

In fact, if there was a way to describe the game early on for the Tar Heels, it would be ugly. One possession in particular highlighted the offensive woes for the Tar Heels. Nate Britt would steal the pass, while Theo Pinson missed a layup only for it to be grabbed by his teammate Johnson, who then turned the ball over while Pinson committed the foul.

The two teams are used to gritty games against each other and at the half, they went into the tunnel with a 46-42 lead. For the Blue Devils, there was optimism considering they were only down four, despite injury issues, foul issues and Ingram off to a slow start.

In the second half, Plumlee continued to deal with foul issues and Jones wasn't able to come back in. Despite this, the Blue Devils wouldn't let the Tar Heels run away with the lead in the game.

While Ingram was struggling shooting, he still kept going strong and tried to match what Johnson was doing on the other night. No matter how much Duke battled, North Carolina started to get a little separation late in the second-half, when they blocked Duke three times in one sequence and finished it off with a Justin Jackson tip-in.

They would stretch their lead to eight and start to lock in defensively with great defense by Johnson. Still, the Blue Devils would find a way to battle back behind Ingram. Ingram would make big rebounds and some shots to get the lead back down.

Finally, the Blue Devils took the lead back and suddenly, the two teams began trading the lead and their was a classic on hand. With Duke leading by one, North Carolina chose not to call a timeout and Derryck Thornton blocked a shot from Joel Berry II as time ran out and Grayson Allen threw the ball up in celebration.

Three Stars

Grayson Allen led the Blue Devils with 23 points. He made the tough shots inside and never gave up on missed shots offensively in the win.

Brandon Ingram didn't have his best shooting night, but he kept shooting and picking up rebounds. His aggressive nature kept the Devils in it and they pulled out the big win on the road.

Brice Johnson was the leader for the Tar Heels on Wednesday night. He finished with 29 points and 19 rebounds.

Highlights

Odds

North Carolina came into the game as an 8.5-point favorite. By losing, they did not cover the spread.

Next Game

North Carolina will host the Miami Hurricanes in Chapel Hill on Saturday. Duke will hit the road and play the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday.

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