Game Day: Duke (18-1) vs. North Carolina (13-5)

Duke will be looking to improve to 19-1 on the season while completing the first half of the ACC schedule without a loss when the Blue Devils travel to North Carolina tonight. <i>TheDevilsDen.com</I> takes a look at the important news and notes from the match up, and runs down what you need to know.

Game Facts:

The game will be televised nationally by espn2 with Dan Shulman (play-by-play), Dick Vitale (color) and Andy Katz (sideline) calling the action. The game will also be carried regionally by RJ Sports with Tim Brando (play-by-play) and Billy Packer (color) calling the contest.

The Series:

Overall......................... North Carolina 123-92
At Cameron Indoor Stadium....... Duke 36-30
At Dean E. Smith Center......... North Carolina 11-7
In ACC Tournament............... Duke 11-8
Current Streak.................. Duke W 1
Longest Duke Win Streak......... 8 (1951-54)
Longest UNC Win Streak.......... 16 (1921-28)
Biggest Duke Win................ 104-69 (2/29/64)
Biggest UNC Win................. 55-19 (3/5/21)
Duke Under Coach K.............. 27-28

This will mark the 216th meeting between Duke and North Carolina with the Tar Heels holding a 123-92 series lead. Duke has won 12 of the past 14 meetings between the two schools, including four of the past five meetings in the Smith Center. Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke is 27-28 vs. the Tar Heels.

Last Time:

Duke moved into position for a fifth straight Atlantic Coast Conference title, getting 19 points from Daniel Ewing in a 75-63 victory over North Carolina on March 15, 2003, in the tournament semifinals in Greensboro. The 12th-ranked Blue Devils shot 61 percent in the first half to go up by 21 at the break. Ewing, coming off a career-high 32-point effort against Virginia in the quarterfinals, got 13 in the first half as Duke dominated from the start to win its 14th consecutive ACC Tournament game.

Notable:

*- With a pair of victories over Florida State and Georgia Tech last week, the Blue Devils improved to 165-23 when ranked number one. This will be the 13th time Duke has met North Carolina during Mike Krzyzewski's coaching tenure that the Blue Devils are ranked No. 1. Duke has won seven of the previous 12 meetings.

*- Eighteen of the last 54 meetings between the two schools have featured the nation's No. 1 team (Duke 12 times, UNC six).

*- Thursday's game will mark the 132nd straight meeting between Duke and North Carolina that at least one of the teams is ranked in a national poll. That streak dates back to Feb. 25, 1955

*- Duke's 18-1 start matches the best record through 19 games in school history. Duke's 1929-30, 1991-92, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2000-01 and 2001-02 teams also started 18-1.

*- Duke will look for its 16th consecutive victory when it faces North Carolina on Feb. 5. The Blue Devils have recorded win streaks of 10 or more games nine different times in the past seven seasons.

*- Chris Duhon stands just five steals shy of becoming Duke's all-time leader. Duhon has 262 career thefts to his credit, and trails only Shane Battier (266) on the Blue Devil chart

*- Duke has four ACC road victories this season. The other eight teams in the league have combined for five – none by North Carolina.

*- Chris Duhon and Luol Deng earned ACC Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week honors, respectively, on Feb. 2

*- Since its 78-68 loss against Purdue in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout, Duke has been dominating in its last 15 games. The Blue Devils' average margin of victory during their current 15-game winning streak is +21.3.

*- Of the 600 minutes played in that stretch, Duke has trailed for just 19:37, roughly three percent of the total time. In seven of its last 15 games, Duke has not trailed at all.

*- Duke has been very balanced offensively this season as six players — J.J. Redick (16.3), Luol Deng (13.8), Shelden Williams (11.8), Daniel Ewing (11.3), Chris Duhon (10.1) and Shavlik Randolph (8.2) — are averaging at least 8.2 points per game.

*- Shelden Williams, known as "The Landlord," has blocked a team- and ACC-best 67 shots this season, while Shavlik Randolph (35) and Luol Deng (23) each have at least 23 rejections so far this year. Williams leads the league in blocked shots, Randolph ranks third and Deng is ninth among the ACC leaders.

*- Mike Krzyzewski currently ranks 17th among the all-time victory leaders at the Division I level with 680 career victories.

Some Common Opponents:

@ Clemson: Duke -W (73-54), North Carolina –L (81-72)
@ Maryland: Duke -W (68-60), North Carolina – L (90-84)
Wake Forest: Duke –W (84-72), North Carolina – L (119-114)
Davidson: Duke –W (88-54), North Carolina – W (91-68)

Meet the Tar Heels:

Probable Starting Lineup: 
   Raymond Felton (6-, 191, G, So.) – 11.7 ppg, 7.9 apg, 2.3 spg
   Melvin Scott (6-1, 183, G, Jr.) – 11.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.7 spg
   Rashad McCants (6-4, 205, G/F, So.) – 18.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
   Jawad Williams (6-8, 221, F, Jr.) – 13.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg
   Sean May (6-8, 268, C, So.) – 15.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg
Key Reserves: 
   Jackie Manuel (6-5, 202, F, Jr.) – 6.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.2 spg
   David Noel (6-6, 226, F, So.) – 6.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg
   Byron Sanders (6-9, 228, C, So.) – 0.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg
   Damion Grant (7-0, 270, C, So.) – 0.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg

With Roy Williams finally returning home this was supposed to be the year that North Carolina was able to challenge for the ACC title. However, inconsistency and system implementation problems have caused the Tar Heels to play sub-.500 ball to this point in the ACC.

Despite their 3-4 record, Carolina brings one of the most talented and potentially explosive lineups the Devils will face this season. It starts in the backcourt with preseason ACC Player of the Year Raymond Felton, who is the unquestioned leader for Williams' troops. Blessed with a lightning fast first step and good vision, Felton leads the ACC in assists at 7.9 per contest, but also has the ability to take a game over with his scoring.

Manning the other backcourt slot is the ACC's leading scorer, Rashad McCants. The 6-foot-4 strong guard can fill up a statsheet in a number of ways including from the perimeter (where he's hitting 36% of his three point attempts), off the dribble, or posting up smaller defenders. Despite a reputation of being a lax defender, McCants has stepped up in recent weeks on that side of the ball.

The wing forward/guard position is manned by a trio of athletes, most notably the Tar Heel defensive stopper Jackie Manuel. Manuel's shot selection has been questionable at times this season, but the 6-foot-5 athletic forward has made up for it on the defensive end. One knock on Manuel this year has been his performance at the free throw line where he's hitting less than 50% of his attempts.

Joining Manuel on the wing is converted football player David Noel, who has moved into the role of undersized power forward this year under Williams' tutelage. Blessed with a muscular frame and incredible athletic ability, Noel is a top shelf post defender and emerging shot blocking threat. Like Manuel, Noel is a poor foul shooter – shooting just 59% on the year.

The third member of this trio is Melvin Scott, who has been Carolina's best outside shooter this year (40.4%). Scott has also worked on his ball handling skills to help spell Felton when needed.

Inside the Tar Heels have gotten a lift from hefty center Sean May, who's averaging a double-double (15.4 PPG, 9.5 RPG) night in and night out. While he's one of the best, and most polished centers in the nation on the offensive end, May has struggled with stamina at times this season.

Manning the power forward position has been 6-foot-8 junior Jawad Williams, who has suffered a number of injuries throughout this season. Despite those setbacks, Williams is still North Carolina's most consistent outside shooter (42.4%), while working along side May on the boards (5.1 RPG). While he has been cleared to return to action without his protective mask in recent weeks, Williams has yet to remove it.

Much has been made of North Carolina's lack of depth this season, and for good reason. Aside from the normal seven player rotation there aren't many ACC caliber contributors on the baby blue pine. Sophomores Byron Sanders and Damion Grant are considered long term projects who have done little more than set screens, and grab the occasional rebound for Williams this year.


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