Junior forward Luke Maye scored 17 points and No. 12 North Carolina held off a huge rally from fifth-ranked Duke to win 74-69 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament semifinals Friday night at the Barclays Center in New York.
Senior guard Joel Berry II added 13 points, while senior guard Cameron Johnson, junior guard Kenny Williams and freshman forward Garrison Brooks all scored 10 points for the Tar Heels.
In Saturday night’s final, North Carolina (25-9) faces top-ranked and top-seeded Virginia, which eliminated No. 19 Clemson 64-58 in the first semifinal. Virginia defeated visiting North Carolina 61-49 in the lone regular-season meeting between the teams on Jan. 6.
Freshman guard Gary Trent Jr.’s 20 points paced Duke (26-7), while freshman star forward Marvin Bagley III had 19 points, senior guard Grayson Allen scored 16 and freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. had 14 points. Defending champion Duke was the No. 2 seed.
This was the rubber match between Duke and North Carolina after Duke won the regular-season finale 74-64 last Saturday.
These teams also met in last year’s ACC tournament semifinal round, with Duke winning that game and North Carolina later going on to win the national championship.
North Carolina built a 62-48 lead with less than 10 minutes to play, continuing to slice through the Duke defense.
Then North Carolina had late-game possessions that included two offensive rebounds, helping the Tar Heels cut almost a minute off the clock.
Yet Allen’s 3-pointer as part of a 10-0 run cut the lead to 72-66 with 1:47 to play. The Tar Heels missed seven straight shots down the stretch, though an offensive rebound on the seventh of those meant Duke didn’t regain possession until a turnover that led to Trent Jr.’s 3-pointer with 50 seconds left.
Another turnover gave Duke a chance, but Allen was called for charging. Another North Carolina turnover allowed Duke another chance with 11 seconds remaining and Allen missed on a 3 before senior forward Theo Pinson’s free throws clinched it.
North Carolina led 36-31 at halftime, aided by 10 Duke turnovers.
Bagley III and Trent Jr. combined for 21 first-half points for the Blue Devils.
North Carolina broke out to a 16-3 lead, with Duke committing six turnovers by that stage seven minutes into the game.
Duke countered with a 14-4 run, eventually going up 27-26 with two minutes left in the half.
With 52.7 seconds remaining before the break, Allen was assessed a flagrant foul for a hip check on North Carolina’s Brooks.
With Friday night’s result, Duke and North Carolina are both 100-45 all-time in ACC Tournament play.
—Field Level Media