Top 25 foes clash in Tobacco Road rivalry

10:31 AM, Mar 8, 2014   |    comments
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Durham, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Arch rivals will collide in the regular- season finale for both teams, as the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils play host to the 14th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in an ACC showdown at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils were in the hunt for the conference crown for most of the season, but just couldn't seem to close the gap down the stretch, splitting their last four games. Duke took on another local rival earlier in the week and dropped an 82-72 decision at Wake Forest in a game that saw Coach K suffer from lightheadedness during and after the contest. He has since been cleared by medical personnel to return to the bench. Duke boasts of a 32-game homecourt winning streak, tied for the longest active win streak in the nation, and is seeking to complete its 18th perfect season at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Roy Williams' squad took some time to reach its potential. Despite huge wins over the likes of Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky early on, the team struggled with consistency. That is no longer the case, as UNC has strung together 12 straight victories to climb the ACC ladder, residing in a second- place tie with Syracuse. The win streak continued on Monday with a hard-fought 63-61 win over Notre Dame.

This epic rivalry currently has North Carolina boasting of a 133-104 advantage all-time. The Tar Heels are seeking a regular-season sweep after posting a 74-66 win in Chapel Hill on Feb. 20.

It was a tale of two halves on Monday at the Smith Center, as North Carolina came out firing on all cylinders, converting 50 percent of its shots in the first half, taking a 41-27 lead into the break. The second half was a different story however, as UNC's efficiency dropped to 40.9 percent, as the Irish made a game of it. James Michael McAdoo led the team with a near double- double of 14 points and nine rebounds. J.P. Tokoto added 11 points in the win.

The Tar Heels have been strong on the offensive end of the floor this year, averaging 76.2 ppg on a healthy .461 shooting overall. Scoring depth is found in the form of four Tar Heels with double-digit scoring averages, led by Marcus Paige's 16.9 ppg. Paige is not just a scoring threat, as he also leads the team in assists (4.5 apg). McAdoo is next in the scoring column at 14.2 ppg and tops the team in rebounding (6.9 rpg). Leslie McDonald and Brice Johnson round out the quartet with 10.7 and 10.1 ppg, respectively.

Duke is a potent offensive squad as well, with the ability to convert from all over the floor. The Blue Devils are averaging 79.3 ppg, on .464 shooting overall, .395 from behind the arc and .723 from the free-throw line. The 3- pointer is a huge weapon in the arsenal, averaging 9.2 treys per game. Freshman phenom Jabari Parker is on the shortlist for ACC Player of the Year, ranking third in the conference in scoring (18.8 ppg) and first in rebounding (9.0 rpg). Fellow newcomer Rodney Hood uses his 3-point accuracy (.425) to fuel a scoring average of 16.3 ppg. Quinn Cook is a deft playmaker, who can both score (11.6 ppg) and distribute (4.4 apg) at a high rate.

Duke turned the ball over 15 times, Wake Forest had five players notch double figures and outscored the Blue Devils 25-12 at the free-throw line. Duke held a 66-59 lead with just under six minutes left in the game, but Wake went on a 17-0 run to take control and earn the win. Duke really struggled from long range, converting just 6-of-27 attempts from behind the arc. Parker was productive again however, recording his fifth straight double-double, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Hood added 16 points, while Rasheed Sulaimon chipped in with 14 points in the loss.

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