In yet another Duke/North Carolina classic, the Blue Devils let an early 13-point lead slip away, trailed by 10 with less than four minutes to go in regulation, rallied to force overtime and ultimately won, 92-90. Duke has now won nine of the last 12 in the series.
“We kept telling our guys, ‘Boys don’t win this game; men do,’” former Duke national champion and current assistant coach Jon Scheyer said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “That’s the type of games you have against them. You have two talented teams, two teams who want to win very badly. This game tonight is up there with some of the best games I’ve been apart of. It’s right there with that. It was a big-time win (and a) heck of an environment. Our fans, our crowd was great. It was great to be a part of.”
All five Duke starters reached double figures, including Jahlil Okafor, who had 12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
“Credit Jahlil because he didn’t have his best stuff tonight,” Scheyer said. “He had the quick injury where he’s out of the game and he did a great job of just battling. (He) had some big plays – really powerful moves – down the stretch (that) had a lot to do with us winning. But a lot of guys made plays down the stretch.”
Duke shot 50.8 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from downtown but just 51.6 percent (16-of-31) from the foul line. If you do that in an NCAA Tournament game, it can hurt you.
“It almost (hurt) us tonight,” Scheyer said. “Part of winning games, you need to finish and you need to make your free throws. Credit these guys for battling through despite those misses around the basket and those free-throw misses. They did a really good job battling through. I think with our team, we’re going to end up making those free throws in future games.”
Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook scored 22 points a piece for Duke and combined to shoot 8-of-14 from three-point range. Cook was 6-of-9.
“Those two guys are great,” Scheyer said. “Quinn got off to a really hot start for us and really got us going in the beginning of the game, and then Tyus had some huge plays down the stretch. Quinn did, too. But those two guys have been a catalyst for our team in terms of starting offense for us and hitting big shots or (making) big plays. So really, from the beginning to the end, Tyus only came out for maybe a minute there. They played the entire game. They were huge for us.”
North Carolina (18-8, 8-5) shot 45.8 percent from the floor, 12-of-20 (60 percent) from the foul line and made just two threes, as Duke (23-3, 10-3) won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Scheyer, 27, helped lead Duke to a national championship in 2010. He is in his first year as an assistant and brings a wealth of experience to the position. He went from a role player at Duke to a starter to the ACC Tournament MVP to playing professionally.
“I feel like I have good experience,” he said. “And so for me, it’s just a pleasure to be with these guys. They’re a fun group to coach.”
Duke hosts Clemson (15-11, 7-7) this Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.