What in the world was that? No, not that puppy-monkey-baby commercial that you still haven’t figured out, but that Carolina-Duke game you still haven’t figured out. The game ended 20 minutes ago, so this is a rapid reactions type of thing, but how can I not write about it? That may be the only way I get any sleep tonight, is to write about whatever I just saw.
And I’m pretty sure, that what I saw, was North Carolina control the entire game against the Blue Devils who have now won 4 straight over the ‘Heels. The entire game until under the final 2 minutes. Grayson Allen’s pair of free throws with under a minute to play sealed the final margin of victory as Roy Williams failed to call timeout on their final possession, and Joel Berry shot an ugly, half-blocked shot that sent the ‘Devils scurrying into their bench area to celebrate yet another thrilling victory in Chapel Hill.
Okay so in what is going to turn into another instant classic in the greatest rivalry in college hoops, it came down to just a few things. One of them was Brandon Ingram, who is making his case to be the number one overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft. The dude picked it up and was lights-out in the second half. Nobody on Carolina could stop him, and he, along with Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen, kept making plays and shots that kept the Tar Heel lead at bay (not to mention the strong play of Marshall Plumlee).
Secondly, where did Brice Johnson go? The guy had 29 points and 19 rebounds but didn’t get nearly enough touches down the stretch. Brice, though, was sensational.
And then, Marcus Paige. Where are you, dude? The guy that used to make so many big plays, just couldn’t make anything happen, especially late when the Tar Heels needed him most.
It’s going to be a very difficult last couple of minutes to relive for Tar Heel fans everywhere. It is going to hurt and sting for a while. It wasn’t Austin Rivers bad, but my goodness, it was close.
For Duke and their fans, it’ll always be the game that they won with (essentially) five players. With Matt Jones going down in the first half with an injury, it put the Devils in a tight spot. The rest of the guys stepped up though, and it has to be just as satisfying, okay almost as satisfying of a win for them as it is a gut-wrenching loss for the guys in light blue.
This is the type of loss that can really derail the Carolina season. It is the type of win that can continue to springboard Duke’s.
Carolina can’t have a hangover from this game. Duke can’t stay on a high. In the end, in the win and loss column, it’s just one game. But I know, you know, and we all know, it was so much more than that.