DURHAM, N.C. – Vernon Carey Jr., Tre Jones and No. 12 Duke didn't need any wild escape to beat rival North Carolina this time.
The Blue Devils took care of the Tar Heels with a strong start-to-finish performance — with the only unexpected part being the jolt coming from graduate reserve Justin Robinson.
Carey had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils past the Tar Heels 89-76 in Saturday's regular-season finale, capping a game in which Duke never trailed and played a steady game after inconsistent stretches in recent weeks.
“We actually played even better than what we practiced,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
Sure, Carey was dominant inside, while Jones (21 points) and Cassius Stanley (19) turned in their own big outputs. Yet a big piece of Duke's success was due to Robinson — the son of retired NBA great David Robinson and a former walk-on — having his latest productive outing in what is turning into a growing reserve role.
Robinson matched career highs with 13 points and six rebounds to go with a career-best four blocks for the Blue Devils (25-6, 15-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), including sparking the game-clinching 8-0 run when Duke finally broke free of the Tar Heels (13-18, 6-14).
“I'm approaching practice the same way, pregame always the same,” Robinson said. “You just have to have confidence, know what you can do and come out with energy.”
This was a rematch of last month's overtime classic won by the Blue Devils after two buzzer-beating shots — the first by Jones to force overtime, the second a winning putback by Wendell Moore Jr.