Joel Berry II scored 21 points and Kenny Williams added 20 as No. 21 North Carolina overcame No. 9 Duke with a sterling second half for an 82-78 victory Thursday night at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina began the second half on a 16-2 run for a 51-41 lead, then never trailed again.
The Tar Heels held Duke to 29 second-half points, winning in the rivalry game at home for the second year in a row.
Cameron Johnson contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Luke Maye added 15 points for the Tar Heels (18-7, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference). North Carolina has won two straight following a three-game losing streak.
Duke (19-5, 7-4) lost for the second game in a row and the third time in the past four outings despite 16 points from Gary Trent Jr. and 15 points and 16 rebounds from Marvin Bagley III. Alex O’Connell scored 11 points, Wendell Carter Jr. supplied 10, and Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval, who fouled out, both had nine points.
North Carolina wiped out a 42-33 hole by scoring on 10 of 11 possessions bridging the two halves for a 10-point lead.
Duke cut the deficit to 74-71 as the Tar Heels missed 13 consecutive shots from the field. Johnson’s 3-pointer ended the dry spell.
North Carolina, which figured to have difficulty with Duke’s stout frontcourt, held a 44-38 rebounding advantage. That included 20 boards on the offensive end, several times keeping alive possessions during the second-half shooting drought.
It was largely a clean game, with North Carolina charged with only two turnovers and Duke giving the ball away eight times — including Allen’s errant pass with the Blue Devils trailing by five with about 20 seconds to play.
Duke led 49-45 at halftime buoyed by 56.8 percent shooting.
Williams was 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first 10 minutes, accounting for more than half of the Tar Heels seven first-half treys.
However, Duke had a stretch of 10 consecutive made field goals, building a 33-16 lead.
North Carolina reserve point guard Seventh Woods played for the first time since November, though he finished scoreless.
The teams split the previous 100 meetings, though North Carolina’s series lead is now 136-110.
—Field Level Media