Heels leave Devils feeling blue
By By DAVID DROSCHAK, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina dived head first back into its rivalry with Duke on Sunday.
The Tar Heels salvaged their up-and-down season and three-year slump against their arch rival by beating the 10th-ranked Blue Devils 82-79 in a wild ending to the regular season.
The Tar Heels went a program-worst 8-20 last year and lost to the Blue Devils by 29 at home before rebounding this season with a 16-14 record with one of the nation's youngest teams.
Rashad McCants scored 26 points and Raymond Felton added 18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as the Tar Heels snapped a six-game losing skid to Duke, which saw its streak of 12-win ACC seasons end at six straight.
A 30-footer by Dahntay Jones, who led Duke (21-6, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 22 points, that would have tied the game came just after the buzzer sounded. The officials watched TV replays to confirm the late shot as thousands of fans stormed the floor at the Smith Center.
There were 21 lead changes before a layup by McCants and a long 3-pointer by Felton gave the Tar Heels (16-14, 6-10) a 68-64 lead with 7:03 left.
The Blue Devils then went to a zone, seldom employed by Mike Krzyzweski, to slow down North Carolina's offense and tied it 72-72 with 2:23 remaining. McCants then hit a 3-pointer and Jackie Manuel added a driving layup for a five-point lead.
North Carolina sealed it from the free throw line, going 5-of-6 over the final 24 seconds. Felton and David Noel, a 38-percent foul shooter, each made two while clinging to a two-point lead.
McCants was 12-for-16 from the field as North Carolina shot a season-high 56 percent.
Meanwhile, Duke struggled with North Carolina's quickness and poor outside shooting, going 5-for-23 from 3-point range.
The game grew ugly with 8:17 left and the score tied at 63.
Felton was bloodied when he took an elbow on a follow shot by Jones. He was being helped to his feet by Doherty near the Duke bench when Blue Devils assistant coach Chris Collins began to jaw with Doherty.
Duke senior reserve guard Andre Buckner then came out of the huddle and pushed Doherty with two hands to the chest. Doherty went back at Buckner and both teams began pushing and shoving as the officials tired to restore order.
Doherty and Jones exchanged words in the first meeting at Cameron Indoor Stadium after Jones made a basket and passed the North Carolina coach on the sideline.
The 214th matchup between the schools separated by 8 miles produced 12 lead changes in the opening 12:11.
Duke's Sheldon Williams, who finished with 20 points, and McCants were non factors in the first meeting in Cameron. However, both players led their teams early on in this one.
Williams had 10 points for Duke, controlling the paint, while McCants, who was 1-for-8 in the Feb. 5 game as he battled back problems, was 7-for-9 for 14 points.
His hot shooting was indicative of the Tar Heels, who made 18 of their first 26 shots and finished the half shooting 61 percent to take a six-point halftime lead.