Duke and North Carolina renewed acquaintances for the 237th time in their storied rivalry on Thursday night in Chapel Hill, and it was Roy Williams' bunch who escaped the raucous Dean Dome with a much-needed comeback victory.
The surging Tar Heels (19-7. 9-4 ACC), who trailed by as much as 11, took advantage of a prolonged Duke scoring drought late in the second half, to score a 74-66 upset over the No. 5 Blue Devils.
It was North Carolina's eighth straight victory—all in conference play—and by far their most impressive of that run.
Marcus Paige scored 11 points for the Tar Heels, all in the second half after being kept off the board for the first 20 minutes, and Leslie McDonald chipped in a season-high 21 points to key the victory.
Since beginning the season 0-3 in conference play, North Carolina has won eight of their last nine games.
Duke (21-6, 10-4 ACC) came out flat to begin the first half, allowing the Tar Heels to score the first six points of the game. But they quickly rallied, using intense defensive pressure to force Carolina turnovers, and entered the half with a seven-point lead.
But it all came crumbling down in the second half, and key was a tough Carolina defense, that limited the Blue Devils to just 5-of-22 shooting from behind the arc.
Leading by 11 points with just under 15 minutes to play, Duke missed 13 consecutive shots, allowing the Tar Heels to claw back into the game.
They took the lead on a McDonald basket with just under four minutes to play, and they never looked back.
North Carolina won't have long to savor this victory. They return to action on Saturday when they host Wake Forest.
Duke also returns to the court on Saturday, but their task is much more formidable.
They host No. 1 Syracuse in a rematch of their Feb. 1 overtime matchup, which the Orange won 91-89.
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