Duke basketball: A star is born as Blue Devils rally to down Carolina

Duke basketball center Dereck Lively (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Duke basketball center Dereck Lively (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball team finally saw its star born in comeback against Carolina. 

It felt like a reincarnation for the Duke basketball team on Saturday night.

Not only did the Blue Devils (17-6, 8-4 ACC) finally shake North Carolina (15-8, 7-5 ACC) after two straight agonizing defeats but the top ranked recruit in high school basketball, Dereck Lively, finally made his introduction to college basketball.

After months of struggling trying to bounce back from a preseason a calf injury, Lively made the biggest impact on the floor for Duke, who was without Dariq Whitehead for the third straight game, in its 63-57 victory.

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Lively only finished with four points and his second made field goal — a thunderous putback dunk — came with 1:45 left in the second half to give the Blue Devils a 59-57 lead.

The 7-footer also had a stunning 14 rebounds and eight blocks going against the potent veteran Armando Bacot.

It was exactly what Duke has been missing this season and the breakout performance could not have come at a better time against its hated rival.

Dereck Lively’s performance was combined with the stellar display of Tyrese Proctor and Kyle Filipowski as the freshmen duo combined for 25 points and 14 rebounds while Proctor added five assists to his stat line.

Duke basketball captain leads charge in victory

The game felt personal for Duke captain Jeremy Roach.

Roach was the only player left on the Blue Devils that saw significant minutes in its two losses to North Carolina a season ago and finished with a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds.

It was a performance that was expected from the junior but having come on the biggest stage of the season for Duke proved that this team has the potential to make a deep run into March.

The victory does wonders for Duke but the Blue Devils do not have much time to celebrate in its rivalry victory with a trip to Miami on Monday night to face the No. 23 Hurricanes followed by a meeting with No. 6 Virginia on Saturday night.