Grayson Allen scored a game high 29 points and led a furious Duke down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough as the Blue Devils fell 76-72 to North Carolina on Saturday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The loss was Duke’s second to their arch-rivals in the last four years, and marked the ninth defeat of the season for the young Blue Devils, meaning that without an incredible run to end the season Duke will have more than 10 losses for the just second time in the last 21 seasons.
While North Carolina snapping its losing streak to the Blue Devils wasn’t surprising, it was somewhat of a shock that the game was as close as it was down the stretch. Duke was out-rebounded 64-29 overall and out-scored in the paint 42-20 by the visiting Tar Heels. In short, it should have been a blow-out.
But Duke continued to fight and got hot at times during the second half to stay within striking distance despite never leading throughout the game. When Luke Kennard hit a three-pointer with 9.3 seconds remaining, the Blue Devils were within a bucket and were forced to foul.
Marcus Paige hit two free throws before a Marshall Plumlee put-back made it 74-72. North Carolina quickly inbounded the ball and Paige calmly sank his final two free throws to put the game away.
Kennard finished with 20 points while freshman Brandon Ingram added 10 points and eight rebounds in what was - likely - his final home game in Cameron before heading to the NBA Draft as a top 2 pick.
With the loss Duke finished the regular season 22-9 overall and 11-7 in ACC play. The Blue Devils will be the fifth seed in next week’s ACC Tournament and will play the winner of the NC State and Wake Forest game on Wednesday.