Duke started its three seniors for the final home game of the season, putting Jack White, Javin DeLaurier and Justin Robinson on the floor against the Tar Heels on Saturday night.
It was an honor for three dedicated role players ending their tenures with the Blue Devils. All three have seen their minutes fluctuate, and at times dwindle, as bigger, faster and more NBA ready prospects came through Durham on a one-and-done shuttle.
Even this year, as the three shared captain duties with sophomore point guard Tre Jones, they’ve seen their on-court influence dwarfed by Jones and freshmen Vernon Carey Jr. and Cassius Stanley.
The start was far more than honorary, however, as the three helped spur the Blue Devils to an 89-76 win over the Tar Heels.
“It really was our best start that we’ve had in a couple months,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “because they were tough.”
DeLaurier finished with four points, two rebounds, three steals and a block, fighting inside against UNC big men Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot.
It was Robinson, the former walk-on, however, who had the big game, enjoying an end-of-career star turn. Robinson hit four-of-six from three, adding six rebounds, three assists, four blocks and a steal.
“Justin Robinson has been a godsend for us,” Krzyzewski said. “He had his fingerprints on every aspect of the game tonight.”
Duke led the game wire to wire, but the Tar Heels hung around much of the way, cutting the lead to one point in the second half.
It was then that Duke went to the younger stars in the lineup.
Jones fed Carey on three straight possessions, getting baskets on each. Carey had 18 of his 25 points in the second half, and Jones had seven of his 11 assists—one off his career high—after the half. The point guard added 21 points.
Duke finished 25-6, 15-5 in the ACC and will be the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament, opening play on Thursday against NC State, Pitt or Wake Forest.