BROOKLYN, N.Y. — When Duke and North Carolina square off on the basketball court, many basketball fans expect the stakes in the game to be high, the quality of play to be just as high and the emotions on the court so high that it might lead to a little controversy.
As it pertained to last night’s latest encounter between the college basketball blue bloods, all three of those boxes were checked.
The second game of the semifinals of the 2018 ACC Tournament matched up the Tar Heels and Blue Devils for the 248th time, and Carolina was able to get revenge from last year’s semifinal loss to Duke in the same building, defeating the Blue Devils 74-69 to advance to the championship game at the Barclays Center tomorrow evening. The win ended a six-game winning streak by the Blue Devils against Carolina in the ACC Tournament, marking the first time since the 1998 ACC Tournament title game that the Tar Heels have gotten the best of Duke in conference tournament play.
Luke Maye led North Carolina with 17 points as the Tar Heels sprinted out to a 16-3 lead. His jumper with 5:33 remaining gave North Carolina a 72-56 lead, but the Blue Devils went on a 13-0 run to set up an unlikely grandstand finish. After the Tar Heels turned over the ball with 24 seconds left, Duke had a chance to tie with a three, but guard Grayson Allen was called for a charge while driving to the basket. Duke once again got the ball after a Theo Pinson turnover, but Allen missed badly on a game-tying three. Pinson’s two free throws with three seconds left sealed the victory for Carolina.
Gary Trent Jr. led all Duke scorers with 20 points, while Marvin Bagley III had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Allen had 16 points, but was also called for a flagrant foul with 52.7 seconds left in the first half when he hip checked Tar Heels forward Garrison Brooks as North Carolina was off on a fast break.
North Carolina and Duke may be the most recognizable teams in the ACC, but the top team in the league in the 2017-18 season was the University of Virginia, and the Cavaliers’ stellar play continued in defeating the No. 4 seed, the Clemson Tigers, 64-58 to set up a date with the Tar Heels tomorrow in the title game. Guard Kyle Guy scored 15 points as the Cavaliers will look to win only their third-ever ACC Tournament crown tomorrow, with their other tournament triumphs coming in 1976 and 2014.
As always, our senior photographer, Robert Cole, was his ubiquitous self, snapping away and taking amazing photos from the baseline of the Barclays Center during both games in Brooklyn on Friday. There are 28 photos in this gallery, and make sure to come back to ALOST for coverage of the semifinals of the 2018 Big East Tournament.