North Carolina (22-8, 12-5) vs. Duke (26-4, 13-4)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Saturday, 9 p.m.
ESPN (Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale)
“[North Carolina] reminds me of some of the teams we’ve had here the last 20 years when we went small." -- Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski
“We turned the ball over too much. I had five turnovers. Against a good team like Carolina we can’t have that many turnovers. We let them get too many offensive rebounds. With the athletes that they have, like [P.J.] Hairston, [Reggie] Bullock and [James Michael] McAdoo, you just can’t give those guys second opportunities.” -- Duke point guard Quinn Cook on the first meeting
Since the Last Meeting: Duke enters Saturday night’s contest with a 26-4 (13-4 ACC) record. The Blue Devils have won four of their last six games since topping UNC on Feb. 13. All four of Duke’s losses have come on the road in ACC play – at N.C. State (84-76), Miami (90-63), Maryland (83-81) and Virginia (73-68).
Kelly’s Return: Ryan Kelly made a dramatic return with a career performance against Miami last Saturday after missing 13 games with a foot injury. The senior forward scored a career-high 36 points on 10-of-14 shooting (7-of-9 from 3) and grabbed seven rebounds against the Hurricanes. The 6-foot-11, 230-pounder earned ACC Player of the Week honors for his effort and is averaging 27.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in his two games back. He’s shooting a staggering 53.1 percent (34-of-64) from beyond the arc. Duke is 17-0 with Kelly in the lineup.
Difficult Stretch: Mason Plumlee was considered a national player of the year candidate and frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year entering February. Since then, however, the senior forward has struggled with consistency. The 6-foot-10, 235-pounder posted just four points and three rebounds in Duke’s loss at Maryland on Feb. and is averaging 12 points and 6.3 rebounds in 37.0 minutes over his last three games. Plumlee is averaging 15.6 points and 9.5 rebounds in ACC play.
Torching the Nets: In ACC play, Duke leads the league in field goal percentage (47.2) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (42.0). Troubling for UNC is the fact that the Blue Devils have increased their efficiency from long range in recent weeks, shooting 48.5 percent (50-of-103) over their last five games. Senior guard Seth Curry has converted 53.1 percent of his 3-pointers (17-of-32) during that stretch. UNC held Duke to 6-of-16 shooting from 3-point range in the first meeting.
Defensive Ups and Downs: While the Blue Devils lead the ACC in 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.8) in conference play, Duke has struggled inside the arc as opponents are shooting 50.0 percent (356-of-712) on 2-point field goals.
Board Blues: North Carolina has been outrebounded in five of its seven games since going small – including at Cameron Indoor – but the Blue Devils have struggled on the boards as well. Duke ranks eighth in ACC play with a minus-2.2 rebounding margin and has been outrebounded in three of its last six games by double-digit margins.
Last Meeting: Duke defeated UNC , 73-68, at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Feb. 13. The Tar Heels led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but the Blue Devils shot 52.0 percent after halftime while UNC missed eight free throws down the stretch. P.J. Hairston tied his then-career high with 23 points and Reggie Bullock added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-times series with Duke, 132-103. The Blue Devils have won six of the last eight meetings, while UNC has won seven of the last eight regular season finales. UNC holds a 60-33 edge in Chapel Hill.
2 Quinn Cook (6-1, 175, So.) - 12.5 ppg, 5.4 apg
14 Rasheed Sulaimon (6-4, 185, Fr.) - 12.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg
30 Seth Curry (6-2, 185, Sr.) - 16.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg
34 Ryan Kelly (6-11, 230, Sr.) - 14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
5 Mason Plumlee (6-10, 235, Sr.) - 17.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg
21 Amile Jefferson (6-8, 195, Fr.) - 4.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg
3 Tyler Thornton (6-1, 190, Jr.) - 3.2 ppg, 2.5 apg
15 Josh Hairston (6-7, 240, Jr.) - 2.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Roster & Bios
(Photos by USA Today Sports)