Carolina is finer, 97-73 Jamison scores 35 as No. 2 Tar Heels handle No. 1 Duke; Blue Devils' rally fizzles; 24-4 run in final 5: 48 closes ACC showdown

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- The ghost of Michael Jordan, or at least his retired jersey number, was missing last night after being stolen from the Smith Center rafters earlier this week. But his legacy was carried on in the presence of Antawn Jamison.

The man Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has called "the best player in the country" was the best player on the court in the biggest game of the college basketball season. The junior forward dominated the younger Blue Devils for most of the first 30 minutes, and his teammates followed.


Jamison finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds to lead the No. 2 Tar Heels to a 97-73 victory over top-ranked Duke. The victory gave North Carolina (23-1, 9-1) a share of first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and a certain No. 1 ranking in next week's polls.

The Tar Heels blew out the Blue Devils twice, first building a 16-point lead by halftime and a 19-point lead early in the second half. Then, after Duke (21-1, 9-1) went on a 25-9 burst to cut its deficit to 73-69 with 5: 48 left, North Carolina scored 24 of the game's last 28 points.


It was the ninth win for North Carolina over Duke in the past 10 games of this series, and the sixth straight overall for the Tar Heels since losing in overtime at Maryland two weeks ago.

The loss broke an 11-game winning streak for the Blue Devils, who were trying to match the best start in school history and their best in the ACC since 1964.

When Duke closed within four with the help of a 14-0 run capped off by a six-point possession -- a technical foul on North Carolina's Makhtar Ndiaye seemed to open the door for the Blue Devils -- the record crowd of 22,050 got a bit nervous.

But the Tar Heels didn't. They continued to get the ball inside for a series of dunks, taking the life out of Duke for good. North Carolina scored the game's last 18 points, adding to its lead as well as to the highlight reel for ESPN's "SportsCenter."

Sophomore point guard Ed Cota, who finished with 12 points and 12 assists, scored six points and had two assists in North Carolina's final flurry.

Jamison, who entered the game averaging 22.3 points, finished 14-for-20 from the field, making him 49-for-69 in his five career games against Duke. Vince Carter and Shammond Williams each scored 17 for North Carolina.

Roshown McLeod and Chris Carrawell led Duke with 19 points each and Trajan Langdon had 12.

Until Jamison took over, it seemed as if the game would live up to its hype. Duke looked to have North Carolina teetering early, coming within a McLeod three-pointer of taking a nine-point lead. But it was a three-pointer from a most unexpected source that ignited the Tar Heels.


Ndiaye, a 6-foot-10 center who had made only two three-pointers in his two years here, fired one up. It started a 9-0 run to push the Tar Heels ahead 19-16. But a three-pointer by Langdon started a stretch of 11 possessions in which there were two ties and six lead changes.

Another basket by Ndiaye during that run gave North Carolina a lead it would never relinquish, starting a run of eight straight points that eventually became spurts of 11-2, 19-4 and 23-7 to finish the half. It would give the Tar Heels a 50-34 lead at halftime.

It was the first time Duke trailed at halftime all season. The Blue Devils' average lead at the half had been 19.6 points.

Jamison dominated the half, finishing with 23 points, a fraction over his season average, on 9-for-11 shooting, and six rebounds. Jamison, too quick, strong and experienced for the Blue Devils, scored 11 straight points in one stretch.

In the run that broke open the game, the ball went inside to Jamison, Ndiaye or Carter on eight straight possession. Even when Jamison missed a rare opportunity, Cota sneaked in for the tap-in.

The play that most will be talking about was a three-point play that started with a steal by Cota and ended with Jamison taking a slick, behind-the-back drop pass from Cota for a dunk. He was fouled and made the free throw.


While the Tar Heels finished the half shooting 21 of 31 from the field after missing their first four shots, Duke finished 12 of 34 after making two of its first three. McLeod kept the Blue Devils in the game early, with 11 points in the first half, but had little support.

Duke contributed to its first-half demise with a series of uncharacteristic turnovers, including Langdon's pass to Steve Wojciechowski that sailed out of bounds because the point guard from Cardinal Gibbons was running upcourt when the ball floated behind his head.

North Carolina didn't give Duke a chance to come back early in the second half. Jamison started it with a free throw, and after the Blue Devils cut their deficit to 14, the Tar Heels scored five straight on a drive by Ademola Okulaja, a lob dunk by Carter and a free throw by Jamison.

After the Blue Devils cut their deficit again to 14 at 56-42, the Tar Heels responded with another run. A drive by Jamison, a baseline layup by Williams and a layup by Cota pushed the lead to 20.

NOTE: North Carolina's victory gave No. 2 teams a 13-19 record in 1 vs. 2 matchups and it was third straight for the lower ranked team, including North Carolina's 89-78 victory over Duke here in 1994.

Pub Date: 2/06/98