Fighting from behind for most of the contest, the Tar Heels (14-6, 5-4 ACC) got one final opportunity to tie the score with 19 seconds left. But behind 86-83, Carolina needed three points. Instead, Danny Green drove the baseline to attempt a 10-foot floater that didn’t connect.
“I was just running the play Coach [Williams] called,” Green said. “I wasn’t expecting to get the ball… I wasn’t even thinking about shooting a three. I will learn from my mistakes next time.”
Immediately after the botched chance, Williams just slumped in frustration and pointed to his forehead to signify, “Think.”
“You’ve got to finish the game,” said Williams, whose team used a 31-12 run midway through the second half to lead 71-66 with 4:33 to play.
But when Reyshawn Terry was called for charging on a play that could have been called either way, Redick answered the UNC run with the first of three cold-blooded 3-pointers in the game’s final minutes.
“We had a five-point lead and they wanted to call a charge and we wanted them to call a block,” Williams said.
Neither team seemed to bring their “A” games, but for most of the night the Blue Devils were better able to score in bunches – thanks primarily to 35 points on 12-of-22 shooting by Redick, whose performance ranks second only to Len Bias for the most points ever scored against UNC in the Dean Dome.
“Big players show up in big-time games, and that was a tough shot he hit to win it,” David Noel said. “That’s the type of player he’s been all year.”
Josh McRoberts missed just two field goals en route to a 17-point night, while Shelden Williams finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.
“We knew they were going to come back,” McRoberts said. “They’re a good team and they’re well-coached.
“J.J. definitely carried us at the end of the game today.”
Meanwhile, the Tar Heels seemed to struggle to eek out every single point; and protecting the ball was again an adventure as they committed 21 turnovers against Duke’s in your face man-to-man pressure.
Terry led five UNC players in double figures with 17 points, Tyler Hansbrough scored 14, Noel added 13 and Bobby Frasor and Wes Miller each chipped in 10.
“Carolina is really good,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We played against a team tonight that could challenge for the league.”
For UNC to make a February run and remain in the ACC’s top echelon behind the Blue Devils (22-1, 10-0), it will need a win on the road Sunday in Coral Gables against Miami (14-8, 6-3).
“None of our guys are ever going to quit,” Williams said. “If I ever have one of my team’s quit, I will walk out of here and stop coaching.”