Ranking the 10 best Duke-UNC games in the Williams-Krzyzewski era
The storied Duke-North Carolina rivalry has produced unforgettable games dating all the way back to the 1950s.
But we’re not here to talk about the distant past. The current incarnation of the rivalry — since former UNC assistant Roy Williams came back to Chapel Hill as head coach for the 2003-04 season — has been pretty amazing, too.
We thought we’d take a look at the best recent games in this rivalry.
1 North Carolina 86, Duke 72
Where/when: Chapel Hill, March 4, 2007
Rankings: UNC 8, Duke 14
Why it was unforgettable: The game itself wasn’t much of a contest, as you can see by the final score. But it produced one of the bloodiest moments in rivalry history. Tyler Hansbrough, then a sophomore, had dominated the Duke frontcourt to the tune of 26 points and 17 rebounds. With 14.5 seconds left, though, Blue Devils freshman Gerald Henderson delivered a vicious elbow to Hansbrough’s nose. Hansbrough went down to the court for a couple seconds, then popped up, with blood pouring from his nose. Henderson was, of course, ejected.
2 North Carolina 101, Duke 87
Where/when: Durham, Feb. 11, 2009
Rankings: UNC 3, Duke 6
Why it was unforgettable: This was North Carolina’s fourth consecutive win at Cameron Indoor (all four years of Tyler Hansbrough’s time at UNC, which isn’t a coincidence), which is incredibly impressive considering Duke was ranked all four times (No. 1, No. 16, No. 6 and No. 6, respectively). Hansbrough scored 17 in this one and Ty Lawson had 25 as the Tar Heels rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to reach triple digits in the 14-point victory
3 Duke 74. North Carolina 73
Where/when: Chapel Hill, Feb. 17, 2016
Rankings: UNC 5, Duke 20
Why it was unforgettable: The Blue Devils had temporarily slipped out of the Top 25 with a stretch of four losses in five games, but came into Chapel Hill riding home wins against No. 13 Louisville and No. 7 Virginia. This game bounced back and forth a bit until the Tar Heels stretched their lead to eight points, at 68-60, with about seven minutes left in the contest. Sparked by three consecutive buckets by Brandon Ingram, the short-handed Blue Devils — only seven players played, and only five Duke players logged double-digit minutes — outscored UNC 14-5 down the stretch to claim a surprising win on their rivals' court.
4 North Carolina 74, Duke 66
Where/when: Chapel Hill, Feb. 20, 2014
Rankings: Duke 5, UNC unranked
Why it was unforgettable: The 2013-14 season had started off largely forgettable for the Tar Heels, who had struggled to an 11-7 start to the season (and a 1-4 start to ACC play) before finally finding their stride. By the time this game rolled around, North Carolina had won seven in a row but still wasn’t ranked. In this one, Duke rolled out to a seven-point halftime lead, but the Tar Heels were a different team in the second half. Led by Marcus Paige’s 13 points (all after halftime), the Heels outscored the Blue Devils 29-14 down the stretch to pull off the victory.
5 North Carolina 83, Duke 76
Where/when: Durham, March 4, 2006
Rankings: Duke 1, North Carolina 13
Why it was unforgettable: Duke was 27-2 and ranked No. 1 in the country heading into this regular-season finale, but this game became a sign of what was to come for the Tar Heels in the Tyler Hansbrough era. The freshman forward had 27 points and 10 rebounds and helped seal the win with a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 3:13 left that pushed UNC’s lead to 11 points. In Hansbrough’s four years at Carolina, the Tar Heels were undefeated at Cameron Indoor.
6 Duke 71, North Carolina 70
Where/when: Durham, Feb. 9, 2005
Rankings: UNC 2, Duke 7
Why it was unforgettable: First, it was a contest at Cameron Indoor between two top-10 teams. That’s a good place to start. In this one, Duke threatened to break open what had been a tight game with a burst that pushed the Blue Devils’ lead out to nine points late in the second half. But the Tar Heels roared back to cut the lead to a single point in the final minute, and they had the ball with a chance to take the lead. Raymond Felton had an open look but didn’t take it and North Carolina wound up not even getting a shot as time ran out.
7 Duke 92, North Carolina 90 OT
Where/when: Durham, Feb. 18, 2015
Rankings: Duke 4, North Carolina 15
Why it was unforgettable: This game featured massive swings in momentum. Duke built a 13-point lead in the first half in front of a frenzied crowd at Cameron, only to watch the Tar Heels rally to tie the game and then build a 10-point lead of their own late in the second half. But Blue Devils freshman point guard Tyus Jones scored nine points in the final 1:26 to send the game to overtime, where Duke outlasted North Carolina.
8 Duke 83, North Carolina 81 OT
Where/when: Chapel Hill, Feb. 5, 2004
Rankings: Duke 1, UNC 17
Why it was unforgettable: This was Roy Williams’ entry back into the rivalry, and it provided all the intensity and drama and heartbreak he remembered from his days as an assistant coach. The top-ranked Blue Devils entered the game with an 18-1 record overall and 7-0 mark in ACC play, but the Tar Heels (who were 13-5 and 3-4) gave them everything they could handle. Rashad McCants scored 27 points for North Carolina, including the game-tying 3-pointer with 13 seconds left in overtime, but a reverse layup by Chris Duhon with 6.5 seconds left gave Duke the victory.
9 North Carolina 75, Duke 73
Where/when: Chapel Hill, March 6, 2005
Rankings: UNC 2, Duke 6
Why it was unforgettable: The second contest of the season between these two top-10 teams, and the final game of the regular season, was just as intense as the first one. Again, Duke built a nine-point lead in the second half, and again North Carolina came roaring back. This time, the Tar Heels finished the comeback, when freshman Marvin Williams completed a three-point play in the final minute to give his team a two-point lead. The Blue Devils had two shots on the final possession but neither went in, and North Carolina got the win and clinched the ACC title.
10 Duke 85, North Carolina 84
Where/when: Feb. 8, 2012
Rankings: UNC 5, Duke 10
Why it was unforgettable: The Tar Heels were in control of this game pretty much the entire way, building a 13-point lead by halftime. They still led by 10 (82-72) on a jumper by Harrison Barnes with 2:38 left, but Duke trimmed the UNC lead to three points (83-80) to set up one of the craziest moments in rivalry history. Ryan Kelly launched a shot from 3-point range that was affected by the long arms of UNC’s John Henson, and Tyler Zeller went up for the off-line shot but somehow wound up tipping the ball into the basket. Zeller, of course, played for Carolina. After Zeller went 1-for-2 from the free throw line, Duke’s Austin Rivers brought the ball up the court and drilled a long 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Zeller at the buzzer to give Duke the stunning victory.