Duke basketball resiliency results in sweep against North Carolina

Duke basketball freshman Kyle Filipowski (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball freshman Kyle Filipowski (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team completed the regular season sweep of North Carolina. 

An extra day of rest could have been earned for the Duke basketball team with a victory in Chapel Hill against North Carolina.

That break will be much deserved after the Blue Devils swept the regular season series against the Tar Heels, 62-57, with a resilient and gritty performance.

Jon Scheyer’s young team looked rattled to open the game in front of the raucous Dean Dome crowd with careless turnovers, missed shots, and disjointed possessions but quickly rattled off a 7-0 run after the first five points of the game went to a desperate North Carolina team.

A victory could have pushed the Tar Heels closer to the NCAA Tournament, instead the national runners up, and preseason No. 1 team in the country, could be looking at a berth in the NIT — barring a run to an ACC Tournament Championship.

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Duke (23-8, 14-6 ACC) could never pull away from North Carolina despite leading by as many as six, 31-25, in the first half and seven, 43-36, after halftime.

The ‘Heels (19-12, 11-9 ACC) used an 11-2 run immediately after the Blue Devils took its largest lead of the team to reclaim its first advantage since it was 9-8, but both programs traded blows until Kyle Filipowski put Duke in front for good with two shots from the free throw line.

Filipowski finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds as Jeremy Roach pushed the Blue Devil lead to three, 60-57, with an acrobatic layup before the Duke defense took over.

The freshman would put the exclamation point on the game with a dunk with 2.2 seconds left.

Duke basketball defense proves its elite status

Most of the entire season Duke has been able to rely on its defense to keep a game within striking distance and it happened again in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina did not make a field goal in the final 4:20 of the game and only manufactured two points since RJ Davis put his team in the lead.

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The Tar Heels missed its final seven shots of the game while having one attempt blocked and turning the ball over on another possession as Duke secured the victory.

However, it wasn’t just the missed shots from Hubert Davis’ squad, it was the way in which they missed because North Carolina did not have a clean look at the basket against the pressure of Duke.

The Blue Devils clinched a double-bye in the ACC Tournament with the victory and will not take the floor again until Thursday in Greensboro.

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