In one of the wildest college basketball games that you are ever going to see, No. 7 Duke somehow found a way to knock off North Carolina in the Dean Dome, 98-96, in overtime.
Wendell Moore scored the game-winning bucket, tipping in a Tre Jones airball as time expired to keep the Blue Devils in the mix for a No. 1 seed come Selection Sunday:
That’s not even the craziest thing that happened in that game.
At the end of regulation, after erasing a 13-point second half deficit in the final 4:31, Jones intentionally missed a free throw with just 4.4 seconds left on the clock, setting up this finish:
The story of this game is going to end up being Jones’ heroics as he out-dueled his freshman counterpart, Cole Anthony, but the truth of the matter is that the Tar Heels threw this game away.
There were at least a half-dozen moments throughout the game where North Carolina had to do was avoid make one, singular mistake and they were on their way to the biggest win and the best moment of their season.
Let’s start with this: The Tar Heels shot 5-for-10 from the free throw line in the final 1:11, after Duke started intentionally fouling. That’s not good. They dodged a bullet when, with an 83-81 lead and 16 seconds left on the clock, Anthony turned the ball over because Garrison Brooks blocked Cassius Stanley’s game-tying layup attempt. But Andrew Platek missed one of two free throws at the other end of the floor, and after he intentionally fouled Jones with a three point lead, the Tar Heels allowed the Duke point guard to get his own missed and for overtime.
In the extra frame, the mistakes started piling up again.
Up 96-91 with 21 seconds left after a pair of free throw from Anthony, Christian Keeling fouled Jones as he scored at the rim with 16 seconds left on the clock. Jones missed the and-one free throw but, for the second time in the game, the Tar Heels were unable to secure the defensive rebound, as it was tipped out of bounds by Justin Pierce.
Duke scored immediately, cutting the lead to 96-95, before Brooks turned the ball over on an inbounds play, giving the ball back to the Blue Devils with a chance to win. Jones went straight at Keeling’s chest, drew a foul and, after making the first free throw, missed the second.
But for the third time in the final minutes, the Tar Heels could not corral a defensive board, and after Jones airballed a jumper, Moore was there for yet another offensive rebound, this time for the game-winning bucket as time expired.
And that, more than anything else, summarizes this North Carolina season.
Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong.
Every chance the Tar Heels have had to run themselves into an iceberg, they’ve done it.
So credit Duke for making the plays they needed to make to get out of Chapel Hill with a win. They put themselves in a position to commit grand larceny in the Dean Dome because Jones scored 15 straight points to end regulation and start overtime, because he and Stanley combined for 50 points, because Moore popped up out of nowhere to hustle his way into a couple of extra possessions in the most important moments of the game.
There is no better feeling in the world than being on the winning side in a rivalry game when that win is anything-but deserved.
Mike Krzyzewski stole this game from North Carolina, and if he says otherwise he is knowingly lying.