Old foes Duke, UNC collide in ACC Tournament (Mar 09, 2018)
NEW YORK — Duke and North Carolina will meet Friday for the 22nd time in the ACC Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in a rematch of last year’s semifinal won by Duke 93-83.
Fifth-ranked Duke (26-6) holds a 13-8 edge in the tournament series over its rival. No. 12 North Carolina (24-9) won the tournament in 2016. The Blue Devils won it last year for a record 20th time.
Carolina bounced back from the semifinal loss to Duke in 2017 to win the national championship.
“You know, last year we lost this game that’s going to be played (Friday),” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. “I think we kept playing. I think, my memory is not as good as it used to be, but I think we kept playing.”
Duke’s freshman sensation Marvin Bagley made 15 field goals, the most by a freshman in the tournament, en route to pouring in 33 points in the Blue Devils 88-70 win over Notre Dame in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
The Tar Heels received a career high 25 points from Theo Pinson in the 82-65 victory over No. 24 Miami in the quarterfinal nightcap.
“I know all about the rivalry,” Pinson said. “I’ve been here four years. It’s a big-time game. Everybody and their mama is going to be watching the game tomorrow. Everybody knows that. I’m going to be ready.
“My teammates are going to be ready. We understand we lost the last game, so that’s going to get us even more hyped up about it, but at the same time, you can’t be bigger than the game. You’ve got to be settled down and just play.”
Both teams are on a roll. The Blue Devils have won seven of their last eight games. Carolina is 8-2 over its last 10 contests.
Bagley, who posted his 20th double-double of the season in the Notre Dame win, tied for third-most points by a freshman in an ACC Tournament game, matching the 33 points scored Georgia Tech’s Mark Price in the 1983 semifinals versus Virginia.
His 17 rebounds ranks as the second-most by a freshman, trailing only the 18 by Virginia’s Ralph Sampson against Clemson in the 1980 quarterfinals.
Bagley’s 33 points are the most in the ACC Tournament since NC State’s Cat Barber had 34 against Pitt in the second round in 2015 and are one fewer than the Duke overall freshman record of 34 first set by J.J. Redick in 2003 and matched by Bagley earlier this season.
“My first time being here, a lot of the freshmen’s first time being here, it’s a great experience,” Bagley said. “We (Duke) can’t do anything but take it one game at a time. We can’t look ahead. We can’t assume that we have an extra day because one loss and we’re back home and we don’t get to come back, practice a little bit more, come back and play in this tournament again.
“So we really have to lock in and just come together and just try to figure everything out that we need to figure out and just continue to get wins.”
Duke’s 100 wins and .694 winning percentage are the best of any league team. The Blue Devils have more ACC Tournament titles than any other school and has the second-most semifinal (46) and finals (32) appearances.
North Carolina is 99-45 in the ACC tournament.
The second-seeded Blue Devils are allowing only 58.0 points over the last seven games since a switch to primarily zone defense. Duke has yielded the second-fewest points among major conference teams since Feb. 10 (Virginia, 54.2).
Bagley III, just the second player in ACC history to be named ACC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season, leads the ACC in scoring (21.2) and leads in rebounding (11.4). Bagley was a unanimous first-team All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman selection.