Duke (26-3, 13-2) vs North Carolina (28-2, 13-2)
Durham N.C. - Cameron Indoor Stadium
TV: ESPN / Tip: 9:00 PM ESPN
Program Vitals Conference: Atlantic Coast Nickname: Tar Heels Colors: Sky Blue & White Head Coach: Roy Williams (5th year) Career Record at North Carolina: 136-32 (554-133 Overall)
Projected Starters: 5 Tywon Lawson (5-11, 195, So.) – 13.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.6 apg 22 Wayne Ellington (6-4, 200, So.) – 16.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 40.4% 3pt 50 Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, 250, Jr.) – 23.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg 21 Deon Thompson (6-8, 240, So.) – 8.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg 1 Marcus Ginyard (6-5, 218, Jr.) – 7.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg Key Reserves: 14 Danny Green (6-6, 210, Jr.) – 11.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg 32 Alex Stepheson (6-9, 235, So.) – 4.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg 11 Quentin Thomas (6-3, 195, Sr.) – 3.4 ppg, 3.2 apg 13 William Graves (6-6, 245, Fr.) - 2.3 ppg
How They Got Here:
After a mid-season slump that saw back to back losses to Wake Forest and Miami, the Blue Devils have rallied to win three straight league games leading into the regular season finale in Cameron.
Meanwhile, North Carolina has overcome the injury to point guard Tywon Lawson to run out to a perfect 7-0 record in the second half of the ACC, erasing Duke's two game lead in the process.
The Blue Devils and Tar Heels have played 224 times to date, with the Tar Heels holding a convincing 127-97 all time season in the series. In games played in Cameron Indoor Stadium Duke holds a 38-32 advantage and has won seven of the previous 10 games. However, Duke fans will remember the last Blue Devil Senior Day that was ruined by Tyler Hansbrough and company - that of J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams in 2006.
North Carolina point guard Tywon Lawson has returned after missing four weeks with an ankle injury. Meanwhile the Blue Devils enter the game mostly healthy, though sophomore wing Gerald Henderson will require post-season surgery on his wrist.
What Happened Last Time:
The Blue Devils took control of the game in Chapel Hill by using their pressure defense to convert 20 Tar Heel turnovers to easy baskets. Duke also shot an amazing 13-of-29 from the perimeter (45%), while holding North Carolina to just 3-of-17 from three point territory. The hot shooting from the outside allowed Duke to counter Tyler Hansbrough who finished with an amazing statline of 28 points and 18 rebounds.
Bottling Up Ellington:
Perhaps the biggest victory for Duke in the first match up was the defensive job turned in by DeMarcus Nelson, Jon Scheyer, and Gerald Henderson on North Carolina's Wayne Ellington. The sophomore wing struggled mightily against the Blue Devil trio, scoring just eight points on 3-of-14 shooting (0-for-6 from 3pt range). For the season Ellington is averaging just over 16 points, and will be looking to rebound against Duke in hopes of pulling a second straight senior night upset for the Heels.
Will Defense and Perimeter Shooting Overcome Ownership Of The Glass?:
Throughout the season the Blue Devils have been able to counter their lack of size by shooting well and forcing a high number of turnovers. That recipe worked in Chapel Hill earlier this season when Duke was out-rebounded 44-37, but managed to shoot so well from the field. It'll need to happen again as North Carolina enters Saturday's game leading the country in rebounding margin at +11.2 per contest. In its first 13 ACC games, Duke allowed 169 offensive rebounds (13.0 per game) and has allowed 15 total in the last two games, one against one of the top rebounding teams in the ACC. Duke has been out-rebounded by an average of -2.0 boards per game in ACC play. .
Living At the Line For Hansbrough and UNC
In addition to controlling the glass, the Tar Heels rely heavily on getting to the free throw line routinely and converting when they arrive at the charity stripe. The Tar Heels have made 302-of-385 free throws in ACC play (78.4%) and are getting 22.9% of their points from the charity stripe in league play. Carolina has shot 70% or better from the free-throw line in 12 of its 15 ACC games and 80% or better in eight of 15 games, despite doing it just once in the last seven games. Carolina has shot 30 or more free throws in five ACC games this season, including most recently shooting 34 (and making 26) against Wake Forest. n Duke's first 12 ACC games, it averaged 18.0 made free throws on 26.6 attempts (67.7%). But in its three-game ACC winning streak, it has averaged 19.7 made free throws on 27.0 attempts (72.8%). In the last meeting, Duke made just 16-of-27 free throws (59.3%).
An Eventful Journey Ending For Nelson
Seven years ago DeMarcus Nelson committed to Mike Krzyzewski as a high school sophomore out of California. Since that time he went on to become the state's all-time leading scorer before heading to Durham. For the first two and a half years of his career Nelson battled injuries and playing inside more than the perimeter out of need while deferring much of the offensive load to players such as Daniel Ewing and J.J. Redick. As a senior, however, Nelson has seized his opportunity to shine and has responded in a big way. This season he is leading the team in scoring, field-goal percentage and steals in conference games. He is eighth in the conference scoring in ACC games only (17.5 points per game), first in field-goal percentage (53.3%) and tied for fourth in steals per game (2.0 per game). In ACC games at home this season, Nelson has shot 60.5% from the field, 44.4% from beyond the arc and 61.1% from the free-throw line, averaging 19.0 points, 5.3 rebounds (1.9 offensive rebounds), 3.0 assists, 2.1 steals, 1.7 fouls and 1.9 turnovers in 33.0 minutes. In eight ACC road games, Nelson has shot 47.3% from the field, 46.4% from the three-point line and averaged 16.1 points, 5.4 rebounds (1.4 offensive), 2.9 assists, 1.9 steals, 3.3 fouls and 2.8 turnovers in 30.9 minutes..
North Carolina 80