Technically, Duke did go 5-on-5 against North Carolina, but it sure didn’t seem like it for long stretches during the game.
If the game was over at 20 minutes, Duke’s your ACC champs. Unfortunately for all of us, there are another 20 minutes. Duke is +9 against Carolina in the first half this season, but -20 in the second half. This time around the game was closer, but in the end Duke fell short.
While you can’t deny the talent level on the Tar Heels, I can’t help but feel like Duke is just one player short. We’re missing that one player to get us over the top. Obviously, the spot to look at is the middle. If we had that big guy in the middle, it might have made the difference.
- Let’s go ahead and get it out of the way. I don’t blame loses on fouls, but Hansbrough got a way with a good one. With two minutes to play, Singler (in perfect position) grabs a defensive rebound, Hansbrough storms in and pushes Singler, who falls out of balance. No foul called. Carolina gets the ball back and gets two points and a foul…game over. It was a huge no-call.
- What happened to Gerald? Better yet, what happened to Gerald’s pull up, mid-range jumper? Gerald was only 1-3 in the second half. He actually took six shots, but was fouled on three of them. He struggled on the line as well, hitting only 4-9 from the stripe. It was obvious that Duke’s second half strategy was to get the ball into Gerald’s hands and let him get into the lane. He often dished it to an open man, who more often than not, missed it. My question again is, why didn’t Gerald just shoot a nice mid-range jumber? I couldn’t count the number of times he was open just below the free throw line. That’s the shot that will one day make him a great pro, but for whatever reason he forgot about it today.
- Speaking of missing in action, Singler was the star of the first five minutes, scoring 13. However, after making one more basket, he would go 18 minutes without another one. That’s just not acceptable. He missed three wide open three-point shots down the stretch.
- Jon Scheyer was the only player to really show up on the offensive end. He went a perfect 7-7 from the floor, 7-8 from the foul line. However, he was the only one. The rest of the team went 15-43 (34% from the floor).
- Rebounding was about even at halftime, Carolina leading 12-10. However, they took over on the board in the final twenty, 19-12, but it was actually worse. Duke grabbed three late boards with under a minute to go.
- Ty Law had a hurt toe and he did look a bit off, he was still the difference maker. Without him, Carolina has no shot at the title. He had nine of Carolina’s 14 assists, and made 9-10 free throws. The rest of the team was only 8-15. Difference maker. Did I mention that he also pulled down a team leading eight rebounds too? You see why I made him the ACC player of the year?
- Heading into the ACC and NCAA tournament, we can’t continue to play four vs. five. Scheyer, Singler, Henderson and Williams took 47 of Duke’s 50 shots. Paulus took two total shots, both misses and didn’t touch the court in the second half. Why? I understand he is limited, but we could have used some senior leadership on the floor in the second half. Anyhow, McClure took zero shots, Zoubek took zero shots and Lance Thomas took one shot. Seven Tar Heels took two or more shots.
- Stat that only I care about: Don’t get too depressed Devils fans, while Carolina has been the better team the last few years, this was only the second time in 13 years that Carolina has swept Duke.
- For Duke, the lose was not a big deal. Sure a tie for the regular season title would have been nice, but #2 is fine. In fact, everything that has happened up to this point is done. It’s gone. This Duke team is going to be judged by what it does in March.
Can’t see any way Duke gets a #1 seed, which is fine. However, we could end up either #2 or a #3 seed. More importantly, Duke needs to avoid the early upset in the ACC tournament. They need to be in this thing to win it. Three days, three wins.