0-11. That’s what Duke shot in the last 5:47 of the game. Zero points. Zero free throw attempts. Zero offensive rebounds during that dreadful, painful 5:47. I’m going to have flashbacks about this one for a while.
15 blocks. That’s correct, Carolina blocked 15 Duke shots.
9 free throw attempts. Duke came in leading the ACC in free throws attempts. They took only nine tonight.
That’s the game rolled up nicely into three numbers. However, we’ll go ahead, kill some time and roll with the rest of the details.
– We’ll give credit where credit is due. Carolina played a good game and Duke made a solid run to take the lead in the second half. Although Hansbrough will get all the headlines and highlights, it was the play of Ellington and Green that won this game for Carolina. Hansbrough did get 16, but he needed 21 shots to get it.
– It was a real disappointment to have Nelson lose in his final game in Cameron. I know this was important to him. Early on he really was pressing (as was the whole team). He went 0-5 in the first half and fumbled away a couple poseesions. In the second half, DeMarcus came out firing and he was a big reason for Duke’s comeback, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.
– Where were the refs tonight? I appreciate letting them play, but this was a bit silly. The two top free throw shooting teams took a total of 21 free throws tonight. So few fouls were called, neither team reached the bonus in the second half. Stunning. When Hansbrough intentionally fouled Paulus with under thirty seconds to go, it was only Carolina’s fourth foul of the second half. You’re telling me Carolina only committed three fouls in the first 19:30 of the second half?
– Speaking of Paulus…4-6 in the first half, 1-8 in the second. Ugh.
Speaking of…This is no knock on Hansbrough, he’s a solid player (improving to 3-0 in Cameron), but tonight the refs were too shy blowing the whistle tonight on him; and I’m not even talking about fouls not called. I counted three times when he should have been whistled for travel in the low post. Each of these three times he received the ball down low, Duke would double down, playing straight up, hands up in the air. Each time Tyler simple lowered his shoulder, got caught up in the air, fumbled the ball around, landed back on the ground and was allowed to dribble again. It was awful. If you get caught like that, you can’t just fumble the ball back to yourself. I’m still pissed about it.
– Having said that, Hansbrough didn’t take a single free throw tonight. The man who leads the nation in attempts took zero free throw shots. Amazing.
– Should Coach K have really slowed it down at six-minute mark? I’m probably being a Monday morning quarterback, but even at that time, I was questioning whether Coach K should have slowed it down when Duke went up 68-66. Carolina was struggling, nearly going five minutes without a basket, while the Blue Devils, while not quite lighting it up, were scoring enough to take the lead. I’m not saying that’s why Duke didn’t make another shot, but I just felt like we had the momentum and we should have been more aggressive. It was ‘knockout punch’ time. Of course, who the hell am I to question a man with 801 career wins? I’ll be quiet now.
– The moment that defined the game for me, was not the 5:47 mark when Duke stopped scoring, but rather, the 2:57 mark in the first half. After struggling the entire first half, Paulus got hot and after nailing three 3s, turned a 14-point deficit to a five point deficit. Duke was back, the crowd was back, all was going right, but then they left Ellington open at the 2:57 mark for a easy three, then Paulus, guarded by Hansbrough, shot a loooong three. The rebound went long and Carolina got a four-on-one slam dunk. Then Carolina stoled the ball quickly and scored an easy two. Just like that, fifty-one seconds later, the lead was back to 12 and Duke was just hoping to get it to single digits by the half.
– A new Speedo Man popped up tonight (the second guy to do it since the original). You had to expect it since ESPN showed the Speedo man story 27 times today. However, he got a little dirtier than the original (forcing the announcers to issue and apology). The lack of creative dance ended up doing in this version of the Speedo guy; Carolina made 1-2 free throws. It was the first made free throw in Speedo history (1-6).
– The bench…not a lot of minutes tonight. Nobody outside of Scheyer broke 10 minutes. Zoubek had a good game, however, he didn’t get any playing time late (also, that last foul on him was crap. The Carolina guy slipped). Nolan Smith had a rough outing. The kid needs to relax, let the game come to him and know when to shoot. He went 1-4 in only eight minutes with zero assists. I can honestly say, none of his three misses were good shots.
– Was it me or did Duke really play bad out of the timeouts tonight? The Devils are nearly perfect coming out of the TO’s usually, but not tonight. Duke had the ball twelve times coming out of a team timeout or a TV timeout. They started off fine. In their first five, they scored on three possessions with one miss and one turnover. However, in their next seven , they made only one basket, missing shots on the other six possessions. Usually this stat is the complete reversal.
– Overall Duke played okay. They weren’t killed on the boards, 45-39 (17-16 offensive) and they got the turnover issue under control in the second half (10 in the first half, only 3 in the second). This game came down to the shooting…or lack of. They shot 30% from the floor. You don’t beat bad teams, let alone Carolina, shooting 30%. Again, give some credit to Carolina. This was probably their best defensive effort of the year.
What does it all mean? It means there will not be a #1 seed, anywhere, let alone the East. Whether we win the ACC tournament or not, we’ll most likely land a two seed (probably out West). However, if Duke can take the ACC tournament, they could get shipped south instead of out west. One possible positive outcome could be; if Carolina loses to Duke in the ACC tourney, they could fall to a #2 seed. Duke would also stay a #2 seed, and because the Devils will have beaten UNC two out of three, they could be rewarded with the #2 seed in the East behind a Tennessee team. It’s a long shot, but you never know.
STAT OF THE GAME: I’m going to go back to the 15 blocks. Keep that in mind when you consider the Blue Devils only made 25 baskets. One thing I noticed tonight that I hadn’t seen Duke do all season, they kept getting too deep on their drives. All season long, Duke has driven to the basket with near perfection. Tonight, they seemed to almost always take the ball too deep. There’s a proper release point when taking it to the hole, but Duke kept getting stuck under the boards. You make it that much easier for your opponent to block your shot when you do that. I know, I do it all the time myself. That’s why I suck.
Player of the Game: Danny Green. Again, Hansbrough will get all the press, but Green was the reason for this win. He finished with 18, but most importantly, it was his early scoring that got Carolina ahead and it was his final four in the last fifty seconds that sealed the deal. Green really stepped today.
Props go to: DeMarcus Nelson. Not so much because of what he did tonight, but you know what, no one had a good game tonight. The stat sheet is shit. Don’t bother looking for it, it ain’t pretty. This goes to Nelson for being a solid four-year man at Duke and for leading this team into the top-ten, when no one was giving them a shot at the title at the beginning of the season.
Anyhow, that’s it. Time for me to go drown my sorrow in a six pack of beer, something deep fried, while watching the 2001 Title game on DVD for the 26th time.