Feb. 6, 2006
STATS Senior Editor
Duke warmed up for the renewal of its classic rivalry with North Carolina with a win in a classic game last weekend.
After defeating Florida State by one point in overtime at Durham, the No. 2 Blue Devils (21-1, 9-0 ACC) head to Chapel Hill on Tuesday night to take on the newly ranked No. 23 Tar Heels (14-5, 5-3) in the teams' first meeting of the season.
The teams split two meetings in 2004-05, with the Blue Devils winning by one point in the first matchup and the Tar Heels winning by two in the second game. While Duke has dominated the series of late, taking 15 of the last 18 meetings, North Carolina has won five of the last seven at the Smith Center.
The Blue Devils readied themselves for what could be a typically intense, tight contest Tuesday when they faced Florida State on Saturday. J.J. Redick made a go-ahead 3-pointer and scored eight of his 36 points in overtime, while Shelden Williams added 27 points and 13 rebounds to lift Duke to a 97-96 victory.
The contest saw 26 ties and 17 lead changes.
"It's always exciting to play in a game like that," Redick said. "It's even more exciting to come away with a win."
That's something Redick and Duke have gotten right back to doing since suffering their only loss of the season to Georgetown on Jan. 21. The Devils have won four in a row, beating then-No. 15 Boston College 83-81 on Wednesday before the one-point victory over the Seminoles.
The winning streak is due in large part to Redick's continued prolific scoring (28.1 points per game) and Williams' dominant play of late. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward has recorded five of his 11 double-doubles this season in the past six games, meaning Duke's senior stars are playing some of their best basketball of the season going into Tuesday.
"Carolina and Duke - it's obviously the best rivalry in college basketball," Redick said. "The tradition, the players, the coaches - there's such a long line of history between Carolina and Duke. To be a part of the rivalry and to play against Carolina is always an honor."
While each team won on its home court in last season's series, that Tar Heels squad included stars Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants and Jawad Williams - all of whom departed after leading North Carolina to the national championship.
Although this season has been rocky at times for a young Tar Heels squad, Carolina has won three in a row coming into Tuesday's matchup. The Heels tuned up for Duke by defeating Clemson 76-61 on Saturday to match an NCAA record with their 52nd straight home win in the series.
The three-game winning streak, which followed a stretch of three losses in four games, vaulted North Carolina back into the Top 25 on Monday. The Tar Heels fell out of the poll Jan. 23 after suffering consecutive defeats to Miami and Virginia on Jan. 14 and 19.
Junior Reyshawn Terry had his second straight strong performance in the victory over Clemson, recording his first career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. The 6-foot-8, 228-pound forward had 20 points and nine rebounds in North Carolina's 77-62 victory at Maryland on Thursday.
"I feel like I have to step up my game a little bit to get my team going," said Terry, who's second on the team with nearly 14 points per game and was thrown into a leading role with the Tar Heels' postseason roster purge. "For me, it starts in practice. I've been coming out for practice every day with a lot of intensity and energy. That's carried over to the game."
North Carolina hopes Terry will carry his outstanding play into Tuesday night's matchup with its bitter rival. The Tar Heels will have their hands full with Williams and Redick, the nation's second-leading scorer, as well as the Blue Devils' advantage in experience that has allowed them to come out on top in all but one game this season.
"We just have to help each other out offensively. But, Duke will try to get after you on the defensive end of the floor, just like we do," Carolina junior guard Wes Miller said. "We've just got to be patient, be strong, and attack them."
The teams conclude their regular seasons at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 4.