Joel Berry Leads North Carolina to 82-78 Rivalry Win vs. Marvin Bagley III, Duke

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2018

CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 08:  Kenny Williams #24 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after a play against the Duke Blue Devils during their game at Dean Smith Center on February 8, 2018 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

February is barely a week old, but it hasn't been kind to the Duke Blue Devils. 

Five days removed from an upset loss to St. John's, the ninth-ranked Blue Devils were downed 82-78 by the No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels in a frenzied, firepower-filled ACC showdown at the Dean E. Smith Center on Thursday night. 

The Tar Heels (18-7, 7-5) won the Tobacco Road tilt behind a 37-29 second-half scoring advantage while cranking up the intensity on the offensive glass to finish with a 20-11 edge in that department. 

Junior Kenny Williams dropped 20 points (7-of-15 shooting) to spark North Carolina's offense, and his six three-point field goals were the most by any player in a UNC-Duke showdown since Hubert Davis in 1992, according to NCAA.com's Andy Katz

He also came up with a big transition bucket during a tide-turning 14-0 run early in the second half that allowed UNC to seize control through the remainder of the final frame, as ESPN documented on Twitter: 

While Williams caught fire from deep, point guard Joel Berry II did the bulk of his damage inside the arc to finish with a game-high 21 points, six assists and four rebounds. 

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Cameron Johnson added 18 points, and Luke Maye dropped 15 as UNC leaned heavily on its starters to shoulder the load. 

Theo Pinson (four points) wasn't particularly active in the scoring column, but his energy on both ends served as a catalyst for the upset as he racked up seven boards, four dimes and two steals. 

Pinson also put his length to good use in the post as he repeatedly fronted Blue Devils freshman phenom Marvin Bagley III and forced him to work extra hard for all 15 points he scored. 

The Tar Heels also prized possession and committed just two turnovers—tied for the fewest in a game in program history, according to ESPN Stats & Info

Duke (19-5, 7-4) looked like the sharper side early as it poured in 49 first-half points and ran high-low actions unimpeded against a small UNC front line, but its offense regressed harshly throughout the second half, as InsideCarolina noted: 

The Blue Devils' inefficiencies were particularly evident over the final 11:33, when they attempted just two two-point shots and launched threes galore to try to whittle away at the deficit. 

With Grayson Allen (nine points) unable to crack double figures for the second straight game, Duke found easy offense hard to come by. 

Allen and the Blue Devils will try to exact revenge March 3, when they host the Tar Heels in their regular-season finale. 

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