North Carolina 74, Duke 66

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Guard Marcus Paige scored two baskets down the stretch and two clinching free throws as North Carolina overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to knock off No. 5 Duke 74-66 Thursday night at the Smith Center.

Guard Leslie McDonald scored 21 points for North Carolina (19-7, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), which increased its winning streak to eight games. Fans flooded the court to celebrate the outcome.

Paige, who didn’t score in the first half, finished with 13 points, and North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo added 10 points. It was the 11th time this season that Paige produced a double-digit second-half total after failing to reach 10 points in the first half.

Guard Quinn Cook and forward Jabari Parker scored 17 points apiece for Duke (21-6, 10-4), which had a four-game winning streak end. Forward Rodney Hood added 16 points.

North Carolina notched its second conquest of a nationally ranked team in six days after toppling then-No. 25 Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Tar Heels have defeated five ranked teams this season.

North Carolina was within 53-51 with seven minutes to play. Paige’s 3-point basket closed the gap to 57-56.

The Tar Heels pulled even at 60-60 with 4:23 to go on McAdoo’s basket. On the next possession, McDonald’s jumper gave North Carolina its first lead in 24 minutes of game time.

Paige didn’t score until hitting a jumper about 90 seconds into the second half.

Shortly after, Duke built an 11-point lead before the Tar Heels responded.

Until Thursday night, North Carolina had lost seven consecutive times to Duke when the first meeting of the season came in Chapel Hill.

Duke’s 37-30 halftime edge was its biggest lead of the half. The Blue Devils, who shot 16 of 32 from the field before the break, didn’t commit a turnover across the last 15 minutes of the half.

Hood scored 11 of the Blue Devils’ first 18 points, but he exited with his second foul less than eight minutes into the game. An 18-12 lead disappeared before Duke got going again.

North Carolina was held without a field goal across the final six minutes of the half.

The Tar Heels made only one of their first eight free throws, missing six in a row during one stretch.

North Carolina scored the first six points, but the Tar Heels couldn’t match the 14-0 opening burst that Duke began with last year on the same court.

NOTES: North Carolina owns a 133-104 edge in the series. Duke won both meetings last season. … North Carolina F James Michael McAdoo, who was selected the ACC Player of the Week on Monday and then went scoreless before fouling out later that night at Florida State, scored on the Tar Heels’ second possession against Duke. … Due to last week’s postponement, both teams are in the midst of playing four games in nine days. Duke returns home to play top-ranked Syracuse on Saturday night in a rematch of a Feb. 1 game the Orange won in overtime. Up next for North Carolina is a Saturday afternoon visit from Wake Forest, which beat the Tar Heels last month.

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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