Trailing 48-43 with 4:35 left in the game, UNC had an opportunity to knock off the Blue Devils but ultimately were doomed by mistakes and the Heels' season came to a close in the 60-48 loss.
Here is a look at the good and the bad of UNC's 20th loss in 28 games.
Matt Doherty – Doherty's game plan was brilliant. Many have asked why he didn't do this earlier or more often but Doherty clearly understood it wouldn't work for an extended stretch and the players would not have enjoyed it or bought into it under such circumstances. But they did buy into it on Friday and executed very well, considering. Doherty proved he can be creative with his game plans and still has his players' ears.
Kris Lang – Lang was a horse. He made two beautiful dribble-drives on Carlos Boozer for layups, getting the plus-one once. He tallied 14 points in his final game as a Tar Heel and grabbed a healthy – considering the pace – six rebounds. Credit his attitude with respect to the approach and for executing accordingly.
Jason Capel – Capel deserves tremendous credit for accepting Doherty's inquiry about going to the slow-down approach for his last game at UNC. He said he would have done whatever it took to win, and despite the criticism of many UNC fans about being more interested in self more than the team, Capel proved that wasn't so. He had nearly 24 percent (12) of the game's rebounds and handed out four assists. He only scored seven points but his attitude and effort more than made up for it.
Melvin Scott – Scott didn't have a huge statistical night (six points, one assist and two turnovers) but he did do a solid job of playing with patience in this new set and showed increased maturity on the floor.
Adam Boone – Boone also did a solid job in the set and even brought back amazing memories for so many fans while holding the ball at center court. He dribbled a lot but it was called for in this set. He finished with just five points and a single assist to go against a pair of turnovers. But his direction helped make this night intriguing and exciting for many.
Defense – Carolina's offense helped offset Duke's offensive rhythm and the Heels' defense matched it. They denied passes, cut off baselines, had solid helpside support and made the Devils work for many of their points. Duke had 24 points off turnovers – 13 on fast breaks – meaning UNC allowed just 47 points in regular sets and 36 without having just turned the ball over. Not bad!
Rebounding – UNC outrebounded the Devils 26-23 and even though the Heels had just four offensive boards, only 10 of their shots either didn't go through the hoop or weren't grabbed by a Tar Heel.
Thrill - Carolina gave its fans a great thrill by staying close and giving everyone a glimpse of the past of this great program and rivalry. It brought back memories of the 1979 game when UNC trailed 7-0 at the half at Duke, which was interesting regardless of the style. Although this isn't the way to play on a regular basis, it gave this team a shot at winning, and trailing by five with 4:35 left UNC certainly had a chance.
Turnovers – The Heels had 17 turnovers. Considering the reduced number of possessions, compared to a normal game, that isn't an impressive number. Too many were unforced as Duke didn't apply much pressure. Considering that UNC shot 51.7% from the field, the turnovers likely cost them the game.
Shots taken – UNC took just 29 shots for the contest. Duke had 17 more (see turnovers) and won despite shooting a paltry 39.1% from the field. Had the Heels taken six more shots they may have won.
Perimeter shooting – Carolina connected on just 2 of 11 3-pointers, meaning it was an amazing 13 of 18 on regular field goals. A few of the 3s were rushed as the shot clock was winding down after they passed up some open treys in earlier possessions.
Defensive boards – Duke missed 28 shots but had 11 offensive rebounds. That is a terrible percentage for UNC and considering Duke had 13 second-chance points to UNC's four, was another key to the Blue Devils' victory.
Forced turnovers – UNC only forced three turnovers on the night. They applied little pressure on Duke and allowed them to run their sets without much interference out on the perimeter.
Late approach – Once again UNC didn't make a tremendous schematic effort at coming back once Duke began to surge ahead. The Heels stayed in its zone too long and didn't change its offensive approach despite trailing by double digits in the last three minutes.
Loss - It was a loss nonetheless and was the 20th for UNC, making this easily the worst year in the program's storied history.
The Tar Heels won't play again until Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Sean May and the rest of their heralded recruiting class is in uniform as the 2001-02 season has come to a close.
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.