Live Blog: Duke smashes UNC - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Live Blog: Duke smashes UNC

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

WNCN's Dane Huffman is writing live from the Smith Center on Saturday night's Duke-Carolina game.

10:52 p.m: Duke wins this one decisively. It's a 69-53 Blue Devils victory.

10:45 pm.: Duke has played brilliantly throughout this content, but probably snuffed out any chances UNC might have had with two smart possessions.

When Carolina cut the lead to 14, Coach Mike Krzyzewski went to a spread offense designed to frustrate the Heels and milk the clock. One possession lasted more than a minute as Duke worked the clock down, Ryan Kelly missed, and then Duke got the rebound. Quinn Cook scored at 4:07 to play on a nifty driving layup in which he switched to his left hand. 

Right now, Carolina fans are heading to the exits as Duke holds a 69-51 advantage.

On the next possession, it was Cook again, this time right as the buzzer sounded. That gave Duke a 67-49 lead with 3:17 to play and the game was effectively over.

10:30 p.m.: Carolina has had a tough time getting shots to go down in this one. The Tar Heels are now a miserable 16 of 48 from the field, compared to Duke's 24 of 39. That's a big reason Duke's up 61-40 with eight minutes to play.

10:13 p.m.: Duke is continuing to pour it on early in the second half, leading a whopping 52-30 with 15:44 left to play.

Mason Plumlee, who had a quiet first half, has erupted with four baskets, most of them dunks as the Devils have tossed the ball inside. Carolina has had to extend its defense to deal with Duke's outside shooting, and Plumlee has towered over defenders down low. Bullock has tried to get UNC back in this game, with three baskets, but Carolina is still a long way way. Right now Duke's lead is 52-34.

9:48 p.m.: It's 42-24 Duke at the half, and the Blue Devils' Seth Curry (18 points) has nearly as many as the Tar Heels. 

While there are plenty of subplots in this game, the dominant theme is Carolina just can't guard Duke, especially Curry. He made 8 of 10 shots in the first half, and many of them were open looks. Look, Seth Curry made his first three-pointer at the age of 2, so you can't leave him open and expect good things to happen if you're on defense.

Duke's offensive precision is no surprise. The Devils are setting screens for each other and sharing the ball, always the sign of a team that enjoys playing together. In an odd way, the Kelly injury may help Duke. The Blue Devils are finally the team they thought they'd be, and they seem to have real joy in showing what they are capable of. For Duke fans, that's a good sign.

9:38 p.m.: Can you lose a game in the first half? Maybe not, but Duke is getting close to pulling away in this one. It's 38-18 Blue Devils right now and Carolina shows none of the fight it displayed as a big underdog in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Devils, with Curry in the lineup, look like a team that's a No. 1 regional seed and a contender fr the national title. Carolina looks like a team still trying to find combinations as it heads into tournament play.

9:31 p.m.: Well, Seth Curry is human. He missed his first shot 8:28 left in the first half, a jumper from about 19 feet. Curry hit his first seven shots as Carolina had Reggie Bullock on him. Carolina just had Dexter Strickland on him in an effort to cool him off. But Duke is getting Curry open off screens for what are, for him, easy looks.

9:20 p.m.: Early observation is Duke is scoring at will against Carolina's defense. The Blue Devils just look very confident on offense, with Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly being particularly aggressive. It's 28-11 now and Seth Curry has been terrific. He's been guarded by Reggie Bullock, who was just screened by Kelly and watched as Curry tossed in another soft jumper.

Curry has hit all seven of his shots and has 15 points.

9:09 p.m.: Hot start for Duke- the Blue Devils have scored on their first five possessions and lead this one 12-0.

Carolina, continuing a Dean Smith tradition, started its seniors for their final home game, so Frank Tanner of Charlotte got the nod over freshman Marcus Paige. By the time Tanner was out at 18:19, Carolina was down 7-0.

Carolina has P.J. Hairston on Ryan Kelly, and that could be tough. Kelly has already attacked hard and scored one basket, and the 6-10 senior from Raleigh sees an opportunity against this smaller Duke team.

Duke, by the way, did not start Rasheed Sulaimon, opting for a smaller lineup with Quinn Cook, Tyler Thornton and Seth Curry to counter Carolina's smaller lineup.

8:50 p.m.: Big cheer for the UNC seniors, especially guard Dexter Strickland. And a big cheer as well for the UNC basketball version of the "Harlem Shake."

8:29 p.m.: Interesting that there's really not a tremendous amount at stake in this particular version of the Duke-Carolina game. Duke is set for No. 2 in the ACC Tournament and Carolina No. 3.

Duke will play Friday night in Greensboro at 7 p.m., with UNC following at roughly 9:30 p.m.

Also interesting is this is the second time this year the teams have played and one team has been unranked. Carolina is unranked for both of the games this season.

Of course, this game transcends rankings and ACC Tournament seedings. What's fascinating about tonight's contest is both teams are much different than when Duke won, 73-68 in Durham. That was P.J. Hairston's first start for Carolina, and he contributed 23 points and eight boards in a strong Carolina effort.

But Duke played that game without Ryan Kelly, and the senior from Raleigh is back now. How Carolina guards Kelly - and how Kelly guards UNC's quicker lineup - will be one of the key subplots in this game.

7:18 p.m.: Well, WNCN colleague Todd Gibson gets to have all the fun, doesn't he? Gibby, as he's known in the office, was on the court at 7 p.m. for live coverage in our show with UNC students behind him.

You can already tell the intensity of this game. Thousands of Carolina students came pouring in at 7 p.m., many, of course, with painted blue faces. There were some people out front asking for tickets, but not many. And I only saw one person who appeared to be selling ticket. Didn't ask how much, but did wonder if I needed to hawk the press pass ....

Interesting side note - lots of comments here already in the press room about WNCN adding Caulton Tudor to the lineup for the March basketball run. It's amazing how much respect he has from his peers.

And we could see from the web numbers that fans are definitely glad to hear what he has to say.

We'll post Tudor's All-ACC ballot on Sunday on WNCN.com, and there's more to come from Tudor the rest of the month.

 

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