CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Emotions are still high after North Carolina (16-9, 10-6 ACC) defeated in-state rival Duke, 91-73. Carolina handed Duke (11-11, 9-9 ACC) its largest defeat.
UNC swept Duke for the season with the final game in front of fans in Chapel Hill. Saturday's night thrilling games comes with a host of stats such as the first time UNC scored 90 in both games in the same season against the Blue Devils since 1983, it was UNC's largest home win over Duke since 1998, and this is the second time in three seasons UNC won both regular-season games.
UNC's leading scorers were freshmen Caleb Love (18), Kerwin Walton (18) and sophomore, Armando Bacot (18). For tonight's special occasion, Senior Night, Walker Miller, Garrison Brooks, KJ Smith, and Andrew Platek had center stage in the starting minutes. In the opening sequence, Miller took a charge that set the tone for the rest of the team.
"When Walker Miller set that charge, that set the tone for us and gave us a huge energy boost. It convinced everybody we couldn't have just one guy hustling and making big plays." Walton stated. "So we all got to make sure we keep bringing energy for the whole game."
Carolina was 10-1 at home this season, including 7-0 in ACC play; the sixth time UNC went undefeated in ACC play in the Smith Center. Carolina is 12-3 this season when four or more players score in double figures. Carolina shot 55.4 percent from the floor - and is undefeated when doing so (5-0).
The Heels shot 55.4 percent from the floor and their largest lead was 24 in the second half. UNC led for 39:19 and tied for 41 seconds. Duke never led; it was Carolina's night.
Stats aside, the emotions this game carried was one for the books. Williams kissed the N.C. logo, Brooks emotional for his teammates, and Sterling Manley back in the lineup.
Manley has been missing in action for two seasons due to soreness in his right knee and surgery to repair cartilage in his left. His return to the court tonight caused fans and social media to erupt in roars for the big man who visibly has gotten stronger since his last game appearance. Manley finished the game with two points and a block that sent the bench into overload.
Brooks spoke to Manley preserving and his representation of the program.
"It means a lot to me, and he saw tears coming down my eyes. I saw him score again. He never quit. Never quit, never quit in his life, and I appreciate him just coming in every day and working hard to get right. Just be ready - be ready when his name is called, and I mean, I couldn't be more grateful to be around him every day."
North Carolina will celebrate this season-ending game until Sunday, and afterward, it's game time. The Tar Heels will enter the ACC Tournament with a goodbye on Tuesday but will gear up to play Wednesday at approximately 9:30 pm against the Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest game-winner.