- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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It was a memorable Senior Night at the Dean Smith Center -- for Duke.
The third-ranked Blue Devils decimated their in-state rivals 69-53 Saturday, snapping the Tar Heels’ smaller-lineup-led six-game winning streak while winning their third straight since the return of their other starting senior, Ryan Kelly. It marked the regular-season finale for both teams.
A quick look at the blowout:
Turning point: Ummm tipoff? Duke, paced first by Curry, got off to a 14-0 run before UNC scored (on a James Michael McAdoo free throw). McAdoo scored five consecutive points before the Blue Devils took off again. Curry was 7-for-7 with 15 points before he recorded his first miss and had 18 points by halftime.
With his team leading 42-24 at the break, it was Plumlee’s turn to take off, scoring the Devils’ first 10 points of that half.
How lopsided was the disparity? With about nine minutes left, Curry and Plumlee had combined to outscore UNC’s entire team 41-36.
The Tar Heels tried to rally, putting together a 13-2 run that included their first 3-pointer of the game (from P.J. Hairston), with 5:01 left. But that only cut Duke’s lead to 63-49, and Blue Devils guard Quinn Cook quickly re-padded his team’s cushion with back-to-back buckets.
Player(s) of the game: Curry reached the 2,000-career-points mark in the first half, and finished 8-for-13. Plumlee was 10-for-15 and had 13 rebounds.
McAdoo led the Tar Heels with 15 points.
Etc.: Kelly, averaging 27 points in two games since his return from a foot injury, was plagued by foul trouble in the first half and finished with eight points. As per Senior Game tradition at UNC, senior walk-on Frank Tanner started. He played 41 seconds before usual starter Paige checked back in. UNC trailed 7-0 by then. Saturday marked the first time a Roy Williams-coached UNC team has lost on Senior Night.
Up next: Duke will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s ACC tournament. The Blue Devils will have a first-round bye Thursday and play the winner of Thursday’s No. 7-No. 10 game on Friday at 7 p.m. in Greensboro. North Carolina will be the No. 3 seed, also have a first-round bye and will play the winner of Thursday's No. 6-No. 11 (Florida State-Clemson) game at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Friday in Greensboro.
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