• 59°

BLUE DEVIL OF A GAME: Allen leads Duke past Tar Heels

Duke defeats UNC

Duke's Grayson Allen hangs from the rim after a dunk as North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks (3) catches the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Duke won 86-78. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Duke’s Grayson Allen hangs from the rim after a dunk as North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks (3) catches the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Duke won 86-78. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Joedy McCreary

AP Sports Writer

DURHAM (AP) — Grayson Allen scored seemingly at will. Freshman Jayson Tatum put on a second-half show wat the rim and on the boards.

And all of a sudden, No. 18 Duke looked more like the team that began the season as a national title favorite.

Allen scored 25 points, Tatum added all 19 of his in the second half and the Blue Devils beat No. 8 North Carolina 86-78 on Thursday night.

Luke Kennard added 20 points and Tatum had a team-best nine rebounds to help the Blue Devils (19-5, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) win their fourth straight.

“We all grew up tonight,” Kennard said. “We were all together, we were all tough and very unselfish.”

The streak followed a stretch in which Duke looked uncharacteristically vulnerable, losing four of seven while dealing with the absences of key players — due to both injuries and a suspension — and Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, who took a four-week leave for back surgery.

“We’ve had more interruptions than six teams,” Krzyzewski said.

Justin Jackson scored 21 points and Joel Berry II finished with 15 for the Tar Heels (21-5, 9-3), who were just 10 of 18 from the free throw line — 8 of 15 in the second half — in dropping into a first-place tie with Florida State.

This renewal of one of college basketball’s fiercest rivalries lived up to its pedigree, with 17 lead changes, nine ties and neither team leading by more than eight points.

With former Duke greats Christian Laettner and J.J. Redick looking on from the crowd at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Allen hit the most important shot of the night — a 3-pointer over Jackson with about 1:15 left to put the Blue Devils up 80-75.

After Berry hit two free throws with 1:02 left to pull the Tar Heels within three, Duke played keep away and that set up an open 3-pointer for Tatum that bounced high off the back iron. Matt Jones beat Berry to the rebound and Frank Jackson then hit a free throw to put the Blue Devils up 81-77.

Berry raced down court and missed an up-and-under layup, and Tatum grabbed the rebound with about 20 seconds remaining to put Duke in control.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams called not getting that long rebound “probably the biggest disappointment.”

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: The Tar Heels, who entered as the nation’s second-best team on the offensive boards, couldn’t turn enough of their misses into second-chance points. North Carolina, which averages more than 16 offensive rebounds, matched a season low with seven while Duke chased down 24 of UNC’s misses. The Blue Devils outrebounded the Tar Heels 31-30.

“I didn’t like our rebounding,” Williams said. “I didn’t like the lack of scoring from inside.”

Of course, it didn’t help that the Tar Heels played without starting forward Isaiah Hicks, the team’s No. 3 scorer and rebounder who strained a hamstring during practice Wednesday. Hicks said he went up for a dunk, landed on Berry and “kind of did a split.”

Duke: Suddenly, the Blue Devils have a marquee victory on their NCAA Tournament resume. Before this, their best win probably came over No. 17 Florida in New York in December, and this was their first victory over one of the ACC’s top-five teams.

STAR WATCH

Allen has led the way during Duke’s winning streak, scoring at least 19 points in all four games. This marked his third in a row with at least 20 points. “When Coach tells you to shoot the ball,” Allen said, “you shoot the ball.”

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Tatum’s first basket was one he’ll never forget: With about 16 minutes left, he took the ball on the left wing and looked as if he was thinking about putting up a 3-pointer but reconsidered. Instead he drove the lane and threw down a one-handed dunk over big man Kennedy Meeks that put Duke up 53-46 and had Cameron rocking.

RIVALRY NOTES

Duke has won five of six meetings with its fiercest rival. The Blue Devils denied North Carolina — which won here in the 2016 regular-season finale — its first consecutive victories at Cameron since the Tar Heels won four in a row from 2006-09.

UP NEXT

North Carolina: The Tar Heels have the weekend off and visit another Triangle rival — North Carolina State — on Feb. 15.

Duke: The Blue Devils face a quick turnaround, with Clemson coming to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.

Comments

Nation/World

Crowds react with joy, wariness to verdict in Floyd’s death

News

Bill seeks to end pistol purchase permits from NC sheriffs

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 300th death attributed to COVID-19

BREAKING NEWS

Chauvin convicted on all counts in George Floyd’s death

Local

Top North Carolina House finance chair, Rowan representative stripped of position

Crime

One charged, another hospitalized in fight between cousins

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park

Local

City to vote on apartment developments, final phases of Grants Creek Greenway project

High School

High school football: North receiver McArthur a rising star

Columnists

Carl Blankenship: Pollen and prejudice make their return

News

Harris pitches $2.3T spending plan on trip to North Carolina

Nation/World

Murder case against ex-cop in Floyd’s death goes to the jury

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Man takes deputies on chase with stolen moped

Coronavirus

Afternoon, evening COVID-19 vaccination clinic planned Thursday

Crime

Concord man charged with woman’s murder in drive-by shooting

Ask Us

Ask Us: Have city, county elected officials received COVID-19 vaccine?

Local

City gives away nearly 100 trees during ‘We Dig Salisbury’ event

Local

Political Notebook: Bitzer expects most ‘Trump-like’ candidate to be favorite in state’s Senate race

Crime

Blotter: Concord man arrested in Rowan for indecent liberties with children

Coronavirus

Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

Nation/World

Police: FedEx shooter legally bought guns used in shooting