March 16, 2019 / 3:57 AM / 4 days ago

No. 5 Duke breaks through against No. 3 North Carolina

Zion Williamson scored off a rebound of his own missed shot with 30.3 seconds left as fifth-ranked Duke defeated third-ranked North Carolina 74-73 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals Friday night in Charlotte, N.C.

Mar 15, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Coby White (2) shoots against Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) in the first half in the ACC conference tournament at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina’s Cameron Johnson was off the mark on a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to play. Duke’s RJ Barrett missed two free throws at the 12.4-second mark, before a jumper from North Carolina’s Coby White bounced away and an attempt for a tip-in failed.

Williamson finished with 31 points as Duke (28-5) avenged two regular-season losses. Barrett added 15 points and Tre Jones had 11 points.

Third-seeded Duke meets fourth-seeded Florida State, which pulled an upset of top-seeded Virginia in the semifinals, in Saturday night’s championship game. Duke won the lone regular-season meeting with the Seminoles.

Johnson had 23 points, Luke Maye tallied 11 points and White finished with 11 for the Tar Heels (27-6), who were trying for three wins against Duke in the same season for the first time since the 1975-76 season.

It was the third year in a row that the teams met in the ACC tournament semifinals, with Duke now winning two of those matchups. Entering this game, both teams had 101 victories in ACC tournament games.

The game was tied at 52-52 and later at 65-65.

North Carolina went almost five minutes without a field goal, but took the lead on Johnson’s three-point play with 3:22 left. Maye followed with a basket for a 71-67 lead.

Williamson finished off a three-point play that fouled out North Carolina forward Garrison Brooks at the 2:30 mark to pull the Blue Devils to within 71-70. Duke’s Jordan Goldwire scored a go-ahead basket by picking up a fumbled ball.

Then North Carolina’s Nassir Little dunked for a one-point lead with 48 seconds left before the final sequence.

This was the first time against North Carolina that Williamson played more than a minute. He suffered a sprained knee Feb. 20 in the first meeting of the season. He sat out the entire game last Saturday when North Carolina posted a 79-70 home victory in the regular-season finale.

That made it a much-anticipated matchup as the Tar Heels aimed to continue their late-season roll that led them to a share of the regular-season championship.

It was 44-44 at halftime after Duke erased a 13-point hole in less than 6 1/2 minutes to end the half.

Johnson and Williamson both had 16 points. Johnson had 14 points in the opening minutes when the Tar Heels built a 22-17 edge.

—Field Level Media

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