Blue Devils and Tar Heels collide in marquee matchup
Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - One of the greatest rivalries in all of sports will add another chapter to its storied history, as arch rivals Duke and North Carolina collide in an ACC showdown at the Smith Center on Wednesday evening.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are ranked eighth in the country and have won two straight and seven of their last eight games to move to 19-5 overall and 8-3 in conference play. The lone loss during that stretch was an overtime thriller at top-ranked Syracuse (10-0), one of two teams that Duke is chasing in the league race at this time, the other being Virginia (11-1). Most recently, the Blue Devils routed Boston College on the road last weekend, 89-68.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels are currently not part of the Top 25, as UNC has struggled at times to a 16-7 overall mark. The Heels have played well of late, with a five-game win streak in tow, which has helped the team move to 6-4 in- conference, good for fifth-place tie with Clemson. UNC knocked off Notre Dame on the road last time out, 73-62.
North Carolina holds a 132-104 in this legendary series, but Duke swept a pair of games last year and has won seven of the last nine meetings, overall. UNC is 60-34 against Duke in Chapel Hill, but just 15-13 in the Smith Center.
Duke is getting it done with prolific scoring and efficient play, as the team comes into this matchup averaging 82.2 ppg (16th nationally), on .475 shooting, which includes a stellar .420 from behind the arc, which leads the nation. The Blue Devils' 9.7 3-pointers per game is also among the nation's best, ranking fifth. Freshman sensation Jabari Parker has not disappointed, as he leads the team in both scoring (19.2 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg). Parker isn't the only one filling up the basket, as fellow newcomer Rodney Hood (16.5 ppg) has made an immediate impact as well. Point guard Quinn Cook can both score (12.5 ppg) and distribute ( 5.2 apg) at a high rate. Players like Andre Dawkins (9.5 ppg) and Rasheed Sulaimon (9.1 ppg) add further depth.
It was once again the Parker show, as he lit up the Eagles on Saturday, posting career-highs with 29 points and 16 rebounds in Duke's rout of Boston College. Cooks was electric as well, hitting five 3-pointers en route to a 21- point outburst. Sulaimon added 10 points to the cause, while dishing out six assists for Duke, which shot a sizzling .561 from the floor, including .524 from long range (11-of-21).
The Tar Heels were able to force the Irish into 17 turnovers, turning those miscues into 23 points in the win at Notre Dame. UNC also held a 16-6 advantage at the free-throw line. James Michael McAdoo led the way in the win with 18 points and eight rebounds. Marcus Paige added 16 points and six assists to the mix, while J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson chipped in with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
North Carolina has a different approach to its scoring than Duke, as the 3- pointer isn't as prevalent in Chapel Hill this season. UNC is averaging only 3.8 3-pointers on a meager .319 efficiency, but the Tar Heels are still putting up a solid 75.8 ppg on the year. A number of scoring options are the key, with four Tar Heels currently averaging double digits. Paige is both the team-leader in scoring (17.0 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg). McAdoo provides frontcourt balance with 15.0 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds per outing. Leslie McDonald (10.9 ppg) adds depth in the backcourt, while Johnson (10.1 ppg) does the same up front.
02/12 10:54:17 ET