UNC Defeats #1 Duke at Cameron

This week in Assist Map Mondays, we take a look at the first meeting of the season between two of the biggest rivals in all of sports. On Wednesday, February 20, the 8th ranked UNC Tar Heels defeated the #1 Duke Blue Devils 88-72 at Cameron Indoor.

Both teams sport strong offenses complemented with equally strong defenses, with Duke ranking top five in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency and Carolina ranking top ten in both categories. Both teams also push the tempo, as Carolina ranks 3rd in average possession length and 5th in adjusted tempo, while Duke ranks 11th in average possession length and 16th in adjusted tempo.

One of the game’s most talked about moments occurred a mere 30 seconds in when Duke star freshman Zion Williamson tore through his shoe and sprained his knee, forcing him to leave the game for good. That was just the start of a strange and surprising game.

The Tar Heels, who rank 43rd in the nation in three-point percentage at 37.6%, made only two of their 20 attempts (10%). However, they managed to hit 65.5% of their two-point attempts, well above their season average of 52.7%. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, were not able to consistently hit their shots during the frustrating loss. Despite ranking 328th in the nation in three-point percentage at 30.6%, they were not able to achieve this mark and made only eight of their 39 attempts (20.5%). They did, however, hit 51.5% of their two pointers, although this was below their season average of 58.5% (4th in the nation).

UNC demonstrated their typical tremendous passing in this game—they rank 13th in the nation in assists per field goals made—leading to many open looks, especially in the paint. Senior wings Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams led the team with four assists each. Two of Johnson’s assists went to senior big man Luke May, while the other two went to freshman point guard Coby White and Kenny Williams. Williams demonstrated a similar assist pattern, as two of his went to Maye, one went to White, and his final one went to Cameron Johnson. Point guard Coby White had three assists, with two going to Maye and the last going to Johnson. Finally, junior point guard Seventh Woods contributed with three assists, two of which went to sophomore forward Garrison Brooks and the last going to Luke Maye.

Both of these teams played another game over the weekend and put forth convincing performances. The Tar Heels soundly defeated #16 Florida State at home, while the Blue Devils bounced back and avenged their home loss against Syracuse with a 10-point road win. Duke hopes to get their star freshman back soon, as they have a challenging road matchup against #20 Virginia Tech on their schedule before facing the Tar Heels again on their home turf on March 9th. UNC, meanwhile, looks to continue their hot streak in advance of their next showdown against their rival.

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