North Carolina-Duke Preview
By JORDAN GARRETSON
(AP) -- Duke was tripped up earlier in the week on the road against an inferior opponent, but the Blue Devils continue to be virtually untouchable at Cameron Indoor Stadium. A victory Saturday night would wrap up their 18th unbeaten season there - though the last team standing in their way is familiar with winning in Durham.
No. 14 North Carolina will try to become the first team to win at No. 4 Duke since knocking off its archrival two years ago.
Both teams have already clinched double-byes into the quarterfinals of next week's ACC tournament. The Tar Heels (23-7, 13-4) can clinch the No. 2 seed with a victory and a loss by No. 7 Syracuse to Florida State on Sunday, while the Blue Devils (23-7, 12-5) will finish third with a win Saturday.
Duke is 16-0 at home this season and has won 32 straight at Cameron Indoor - tied with Stephen F. Austin for the nation's longest active home streak - since an 88-70 loss to North Carolina on March 3, 2012. The Blue Devils are also trying to avenge a 74-66 loss at Chapel Hill on Feb. 20, not to mention avoid losing two in a row after falling 82-72 at Wake Forest on Wednesday.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski was absent from the post-game press conference after experiencing dizziness and lightheadedness during the contest, though he was released from the hospital and returned to practice Thursday.
"There was a great emotional investment in the game and I think maybe the emotion got the better of him," associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.
Duke appeared to be in control Wednesday before allowing the Demon Deacons, who came in having lost eight of nine, to go on a 17-0 run late in the second half.
The Blue Devils' late collapse closely mirrored their fate from their first meeting with the Tar Heels. North Carolina trailed by 11 with 15 minutes remaining before a late run abetted by 13 straight missed Duke field goals. The Blue Devils matched a conference season low with five 3-pointers on 22 attempts and haven't entirely rediscovered their stroke. In three games since, they've gone 23 for 81 (28.3 percent) from deep, including a 6-for-27 performance versus Wake Forest.
Jabari Parker - who was 2 for 5 with seven points and three turnovers in the second half against North Carolina - could be playing his final home game. The nation's only freshman averaging at least 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds, Parker is widely expected to declare for the NBA draft and became one of its top picks, though he said he hasn't decided yet.
While Parker faded in the first matchup, North Carolina's Marcus Paige tallied all 13 of his points in the final 20 minutes. However, Paige had just seven points on 2-for-8 shooting in a lackluster 63-61 home win over Notre Dame on Monday, though he blocked a layup as time expired to avoid overtime. He scored nine in last Saturday's 60-56 victory at last-place Virginia Tech.
"I said Saturday to have a really good year you've got to win some games ugly," coach Roy Williams said. "I'm tired of winning games ugly."
The Tar Heels will be looking for their 13th straight victory for the first time since starting 13-0 in 2008-09 en route to a national title. North Carolina's 5-1 record against ranked foes is the nation's second best among teams that have played at least five games versus Top 25 squads. Wisconsin is 6-1.
Duke has won 12 of 13 home matchups with ranked teams, with the only blemish coming against the Tar Heels in 2012.
North Carolina owns a 133-104 all-time series edge, though the Blue Devils have won seven of the last 10 meetings.
Updated March 7, 2014