North Carolina routs Miami to reach ACC Tournament semifinals

Tricia Pearson
March 11, 2017

The No. 14 Blue Devils (26-8), seeded fifth, will attempt what no team in this tournament has accomplished - winning four straight games in four days for the championship - when they meet the victor of Friday's other semifinal between Notre Dame and Florida State on Saturday at the Barclays Center.

Not because it put the Blue Devils in the finals - but because of how it happened.

Duke's 93-83 semifinal victory against rival North Carolina, which was the regular-season champion, involved a comeback from a 13-point, second-half deficit Friday night.

In the first matchup, the Heels played without starter Isaiah Hicks and got out rebounded by Duke.

Friday night's game was even more dramatic, considering the opponent. Meeks scored eight of the Tar Heels' first 10 points and powered his team to an early 21-13 lead. It looked like Carolina was about to deliver the knockout punch.

"I'm not trying to make anybody mad, the coach added".

"I think it's good for the conference", former Tar Heel Antawn Jamison, who played at North Carolina from 1995-1998, said before the game. "It was a four-point play".

The play marked the start of the Tar Heels' decline, although a Justin Jackson 3-pointer and a Kennedy Meeks putback on the next two possessions to push their lead to 61-48 offered hope they could persevere. Then, in the blink of an eye, Giles was on the other end of the floor, somehow past every Tar Heel defender, jumping, grabbing a pass that left Grayson Allen's hands just inside the halfcourt line and slamming it down in one motion. "It was nearly a third-round knockout, you know, without him playing the way he did". "There is not a recipe for how to coach a game. The price has been good". It was won because Frank Jackson nailed a 3 to give the Blue Devils the lead.

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"He's all-world against us", Williams said. "Our guys are in great shape". "So it could have worn us out, and it didn't". From that point on Duke outscored UNC 45-27. Perhaps the ACC followers will bring their coats and gloves with them next year when the tournament returns to Barclays Center. "It's disappointing because we didn't do what we practiced to do". We were not tough enough. You're throwing up your hands. "I feel like that's the biggest thing that helps me so far", Hicks said.

As is always the case when Duke is playing you have to watch Grayson Allen and any antics that come with that.

"Let's go", Krzyzewski told his team.

"We've gotten better here", Krzyzewski said. "As a group, we've faced so much adversity this season". We've taken it one day at a time, one game at a time. "We continue to stay calm". North Carolina struggled to stay in front of their guards, and, thanks to some swift officiating, was sending Duke to the line at a rapid pace.

Unlike the win against Louisville, where Allen's rebirth from a slump fueled the charge, this game was not won by a single player. "It's take his message and executing".

Up until the defensive change, the Cardinals dominated the paint, especially in the first half when 28 of Louisville's 37 points came in the paint. "I didn't know if we had the energy (in the semifinal)".

"I think the most disciplined, the best coached team, the most focused team is the one that won the game tonight", said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams. "It was nearly a third-round knockout, without him playing the way he did".

An 11-2 Duke run over another 3:58 stretch broke a 70-70 tie and gave the Blue Devils control, with a Jayson Tatum dunk at the 2:31 mark putting Duke up nine, 81-72.

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