(photo courtesy of dukebasketballreport.com)
Wow. That’s all I have to say after this game. Down by 13 in the second half after being down by 12 yesterday to Louisville and turn it around again. I love this team. They’ve battled injuries all season and haven’t really hit that stride that I thought they would but now it looks like things are coming together.
I would be remised if I didn’t say say that the officiating in this game was horrible on both ends. Joel Berry picked up his fourth with 15 minutes to go on a play where he didn’t even make contact with the opposing player. There were numerous normal basketball plays that were called as fouls that really hampered the greatness of this game. I try not to let the refs play into how I feel about this game but UNC really suffered from the refs when Berry went out on a BS fourth foul call.
North Carolina dominated Duke in the paint in the first half. They had 32 points in the paint and I thought we were in for a long game. Duke did a great job on defense at not only defending the paint but also grabbing defensive rebounds, North Carolina dominated the offensive boards in the first half and Duke did a great job of cancelling that in the second half.
Jayson Tatum is unreal. It’s a shame that he’s only going to be here for one year. He consistently makes NBA type plays in the open floor and makes NBA level jump shots consistently. He poured in 24 points and 7 rebounds.
Grayson Allen was back to the player I wanted him to be this season. He had 18 points, 5-6 from three, and 5 assists off the bench and brought a championship demeanor that this team needed. He showed flashes of the 2015 National Championship team player that he was tonight and that means a lot for a guy who has struggled for a majority of the season.
Luke Kennard played great in the second half including a huge three to extend the Duke lead during their run. He didn’t make a shot in the first half (5-5 from the free throw line) but poured in 15 points in the second half.
The resiliency by this Duke team is something I haven’t seen in the 11 years I’ve been a fan. The 2015 was much more talented than this team but this team has a swagger to it even with the adversity they’ve had to overcome. Kennard and Tatum are playing outstanding ball at the perfect time. Duke doesn’t have a deep roster (they usually play six guys, seven on occasion) but with the format of the NCAA tournament that doesn’t really play into it. They match up well with whoever wins the Notre Dame-Florida State game and can win their way into a 2 seed with a win tomorrow night.