North Carolina (23-6, 13-2) vs. Duke (27-3, 13-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
8:00 -- CBS (Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg)
"It's going to be a great setting. I'm excited for it already. They're a team that had us beat in the first half (of the season's first game), so we're going to have to be sharp and ready to play… We're going into their house now, so we're going to have to take the fight to them." – Duke guard Nolan Smith
“We’re not expecting him to play. That’s not in our crosshairs or sight or whatever. We just want him to get well. We have a responsibility that whatever his future might hold, that we take care of his future. That’s the commitment we give every kid that comes through our program.” – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski on the news that freshman guard Kyrie Irving had his protective boot removed on Friday
Since the Last Time We Met… Duke enters Saturday night’s contest with a 27-3 (13-2 ACC) record. The Blue Devils have won six of their last seven games since defeating North Carolina on Feb. 9. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad won all six games by double digits and suffered its only loss at Virginia Tech, 64-60, on Feb. 26.
Locking Down ACC Player of the Year Honors: Nolan Smith began his senior season as Duke’s starting shooting guard, but once freshman point guard Kyrie Irving went down with a toe injury in December, the Upper Marlboro, Md. product slid over to the point and has done nothing but excel with the ball in his hands. Smith is averaging 21.3 points (1st ACC), 5.2 assists (2nd) and 4.9 rebounds per game, as well as ranking fifth in the league in field goal percentage (47.0). He is attempting to become the first player in ACC history to lead the league in both scoring and assists, but he will need to out duel UNC point guard and ACC assist leader Kendall Marshall on Saturday for that title.
Senior Sidekick: While Smith is in the running for National Player of the Year honors, teammate Kyle Singler is in a battle to repeat as a first-team All-ACC performer. The senior forward is averaging 16.3 points on 40.1 percent shooting and 7.9 rebounds in conference games, but the Medford, Ore. native has picked up his play during his last three outings, scoring 22.7 points and pulling down 9.7 rebounds per game.
Ma. Plumlee, Singler
An Emerging Threat in the Paint: Duke has struggled in recent years to develop a consistent post presence, but Mason Plumlee is beginning to fill that void. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound sophomore is averaging 9.2 points on 70.6 percent shooting (36-of-51) and 9.0 rebounds per game over his last nine outings.
Production on Both Ends of the Floor: In ACC play, Duke ranks first in field goal percentage defense (38.3) and third in field goal percentage (44.4).
Capitalizing Beyond the Arc: Coach K’s squads are notorious for their willingness to bomb away from 3-point territory and this current group is no exception – Duke ranks second in the ACC in both made 3-pointers (249) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.6). The Blue Devils have been able to make their perimeter scoring even more dramatic by limiting their opponents’ ability to score from long range. Since the beginning of February, Duke is shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point territory (63-of-168) while holding its opponents to 25.8 percent shooting (34-of-132).
Last Meeting: Duke defeated North Carolina, 79-73, on Feb. 9 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit behind Smith’s 34 points and Seth Curry’s 22 points to claim their first lead of the game less than 11 minutes into the second half. Tyler Zeller paced UNC with 24 points and 13 rebounds and John Henson added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Duke, 130-100.
The Blue Devils have won three in a row, while the Tar Heels have won six of the last 10. Saturday’s contest marks the sixth time these two programs have met in the last game of the regular season with the outright ACC regular season title on the line.
2 Nolan Smith (6-2, 185, Sr.) - 21.0 ppg, 5.2 apg
30 Seth Curry (6-2, 180, So.) - 9.0 ppg, 2.1 apg
12 Kyle Singler (6-8, 230, Sr.) - 17.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg
34 Ryan Kelly (6-11, 235, So.) - 6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg
5 Mason Plumlee (6-10, 240, So.) - 7.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg
20 Andre Dawkins (6-4, 205, So.) - 8.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg
21 Miles Plumlee (6-10, 245, Jr.) - 4.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg
3 Tyler Thornton (6-1, 185, Fr.) - 1.9 ppg, 1.1 apg
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