As sports commentators are fond of saying, Duke and UNC are separated by just 10 miles and a shade of blue. Well today, there were separated by more than that, 14 points to be exact.
What allows Carolina to walk into Cameron and win time and time again?
Two things, post play and Ty Lawson.
The Blue Devils really haven't had a force in the paint since Shelden Williams. When they shoot well from the field, this isn't a huge problem. They shot over 60 percent from the floor (including six of nine from distance) in the first half tonight against UNC and held the lead at the half.
But when three-point shooting dried up in the second half (the Dukies started out zero for 10), their lack of post play was exposed. Not only did Hansbrough have his way with Zoubek and Lance Thomas, but Ty Lawson was able to get to the rim unchallenged.
The real key in the second half was Lawson beating Paulus off the dribble and getting to the rim (scoring 17 in the half). He utilized his superior speed to exploit Paulus' lack of agility one-on-one. Duke fans might have been wondering why Nolan Smith wasn't in to even up this obvious mismatch.
A valid question.
He was able to shut down Lawson offensively when he was in the game, while scoring 11 points in just 22 minutes. Paulus was in for his senior leadership in a rivalry game that usually turns on emotion more than talent. He was effective early and Coach K looked like a genius.
That is, until Paulus and Scheyer couldn't seem to hit a three. That's when the game turned and the Heels took over.
The game was everything we thought it would be. When Duke shot well from the floor the Cameron Crazies got loud and Carolina had trouble on offense. But when Duke went cold and the crowd quieted down, UNC's offense took over.