North Carolina (17-5, 7-1) vs. Duke (21-2, 8-1)
Durham, N.C. -- Cameron Indoor Stadium
9:00 -- Raycom/ESPN
“The whole big picture is what stands out, just how massive it is. When Billy Packer used to do games, they would say it’s the only game in college basketball where Dick Vitale and Billy Packer did the same game. They had to set up two tables because it was on every network it could be on. When those two teams play and it’s the big game of the year in college basketball, everybody is watching. We had a good run for a couple of years. Last year we didn’t have a good run, but we want to get back and make the rivalry even more special by playing great against them.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams on the rivalry
“The team who wins will be in first place in our conference. That is the motivation.” – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
Season to Date: No. 5 Duke enters Wednesday night’s contest with a 21-2 (8-1 ACC) record. The Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 nationally through the first 10 weeks of the season until losing at Florida State (66-61) on Jan. 12. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad was then blown out 18 days later at St. John’s, 93-78. Duke has not beaten a team currently ranked in the top-25, but did defeat Michigan State, 84-79, on Dec. 1 when the Spartans were ranked No. 6 nationally.
Senior Standouts: The senior tandem of guard Nolan Smith and forward Kyle Singler give Duke a pair of All-American candidates yet again. Smith is on pace to become the first player in ACC history to lead the league in both scoring (21.0 ppg) and assists (5.6). Singler is averaging 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The Medford, Ore. native has scored in double-figures in an ACC-best 21 straight games and has accomplished that feat in 53 of 57 career conference games.
Statistical Strengths: Duke leads the ACC in five statistical categories – scoring offense (84.7 ppg), scoring margin (plus-20.0), field goal percentage (47.8), 3-point field goal percentage (39.5) and turnover margin (plus-3.9). In ACC-play only, the Blue Devils also pace the league with a 39.5 field goal percentage defense mark.
On Fire From Deep: The Blue Devils have long made the 3-point shot a priority under Krzyzewski’s direction, and that emphasis has remained the same in ’10-’11. Duke is knocking down a league-best 39.5 percent of its treys this season and has connected on 10 or more 3-pointers nine times. Guard Andre Dawkins leads the charge as his 43.9 field percentage from deep is tied for first in the ACC, while Singler ranks ninth in the league with a 37.4 mark. The Blue Devils are averaging 8.8 3-point field goals per game.
New Face in the Starting Lineup: Freshman guard Tyler Thornton has started the last two games after earning less than 10 minutes in five of his previous eight games. The Washington, D.C. native has totaled five points on 2-of-8 shooting and three assists against seven turnovers in his first two career starts.
Irving Remains Sidelined: Freshman standout point guard Kyrie Irving had the cast removed from his right big toe last Friday, exactly two months after damaging ligaments on a drive to the basket in a victory over Butler on Dec. 4. Krzyzewski has said in recent weeks that the three-time ACC Rookie of the Week probably would not return this season. Irving’s 31 points against Michigan State on Dec. 1 is tied for the second-most points ever by a Duke freshman.
Hot at Home: The Blue Devils’ current 32-game win streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium is the longest active streak in the country and the fourth-longest home win streak in program history.
Last Meeting: Duke dismantled North Carolina, 82-50, on Mar. 6, 2010, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The 32-point defeat was the Tar Heels’ worst loss in their 94 all-time games played at Duke. The Blue Devils built a 20-point lead 10 minutes into the game and led by as many as 36 in the second half. John Henson led North Carolina with 14 points and eight rebounds, and Deon Thompson added 11 points and six rebounds.
Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with Duke, 130-99. UNC has won six of the last nine meetings, including four of the five in Durham.
3 Tyler Thornton (6-1, 185, Fr.) - 1.5 ppg, 1.2 apg
2 Nolan Smith (6-2, 185, Sr.) - 21.0 ppg, 5.6 apg
12 Kyle Singler (6-8, 230, Sr.) - 18.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg
34 Ryan Kelly (6-11, 235, So.) - 6.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg
5 Mason Plumlee (6-10, 240, So.) - 7.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg
20 Andre Dawkins (6-4, 205, So.) - 10.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
30 Seth Curry (6-2, 180, So.) - 8.2 ppg, 1.8 apg
21 Miles Plumlee (6-10, 245, Jr.) - 5.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg
15 Josh Hairston (6-7, 210, Fr.) - 1.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg
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