Found February 13, 2013 on Fox Sports South:
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- With its star big man on the bench with foul trouble, Duke went small to beat its top rival -- and one of its smallest players came up big. The run that propelled the second-ranked Blue Devils to a 73-68 victory over North Carolina on Wednesday night started when Mason Plumlee sat down and backup guard Tyler Thornton warmed up. "I think the hero for us this game was Thornton," coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "He would not let us lose." Plumlee finished with his usual big numbers -- 18 points, 11 rebounds -- while Quinn Cook scored 18 points and Rasheed Sulaimon finished with 13 for the Blue Devils (22-2, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). But the contributions of Thornton couldn't be overlooked. Thornton finished with nine points on three 3-pointers -- or, as many points as he had in his previous three games combined -- and two of those 3s came during the run midway through the second half that completely flipped the game's momentum. "It's just the heart and the will to want to win," Thornton said. "Especially coming down the stretch, you've got to go all out and leave it on the floor, and I think we did that." Duke shot 44 percent -- 52 percent after halftime -- and erased a slow start with that timely run and win its sixth straight this season and sixth in eight meetings in college basketball's fiercest rivalry. P.J. Hairston matched a career high with 23 points and Reggie Bullock had 15 points with four 3-pointers for North Carolina (16-8, 6-5), which led for the first 26 minutes but went on to lose its second straight. The Tar Heels were 13 of 23 from the free-throw line and missed 7 of 10 during a critical late stretch while falling to 1-4 this season against ranked opponents. "If I knew how to fix the blessed thing, I would have fixed it," coach Roy Williams said of his team's struggles at the line. "The bottom line is, we didn't make free throws today. We're not a good free-throw shooting team in games." Still, they trailed just 65-61 in the final minute and appeared to have gotten a stop by forcing Thornton to miss a long 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down. But Bullock fouled Sulaimon on the rebound, and the freshman hit both free throws with 37.5 seconds left. Hairston hit a free throw on North Carolina's next possession to cut it to 67-62, but Plumlee countered with two free throws with 30.3 seconds left to make it a three-possession game. Seth Curry scored 11 points in his sixth straight double-figure performance against North Carolina. The win was a nice present for Krzyzewski, who was celebrating his 66th birthday. And an unorthodox move -- putting one of the best big men in the nation on the bench, however briefly -- wound up putting Duke ahead for the first time in this one. Plumlee picked up his third foul 31 seconds into the second half and uncorked an untimely 20-foot jumper a few minutes later, prompting Krzyzewski to burn a timeout. He went to a smaller lineup, sitting Plumlee in favor of two power forwards, Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston. "I thought he was playing like he had three fouls," Krzyzewski said. UNC's James Michael "McAdoo was just going at him so that McAdoo was either going to score, or Mason was going to foul him." The move freed up some space for the Duke guards and immediately led to six quick points to start the 19-7 run that put the Blue Devils ahead to stay. Duke outscored North Carolina 11-3 during the 4-minute stretch with Plumlee on the bench and took their first lead when Curry swished a 3 from in front of the bench to make it 42-41 with 14 minutes left. Thornton -- who had missed 12 of 14 3-pointers during his previous eight games -- hit two of them from the same spot in the right corner, capping the spurt with his second that made it 50-45 with 12 minutes to go. Curry eventually stretched the lead to 59-51 with another 3 with 5 minutes left. "They started knocking down shots in the second half, open 3-pointers," Bullock said. "I think our team played great, we played with better sense of urgency, we played with better effort, we were more involved in the game and what's happening. But they started knocking down shots and they started gaining momentum, and we wasn't connecting when we were open." Dexter Strickland added 14 points but McAdoo was held to nine on 4-of-12 shooting for North Carolina, which came in as a written-off, double-digit underdog after a 26-point loss at No. 3 Miami that marked its worst loss of the season. But the Tar Heels were aggressive early and methodically built a double-figure lead, the third straight year they came into Cameron and went up by 10. Bullock's third 3 of the half with about 6:45 left put North Carolina up 28-18. "The intensity tonight was better than it has been all year long," Williams said.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Preparation pays off for Plumlee

You may recall that I picked Florida State’s Michael Snaer to be this season’s ACC Player of the Year. When I get it wrong, I get it wrong. But the bulk of the ACC media picked NC State’s C.J. Leslie to win that award and that’s not going to happen, either.  If post-season voting were to take place now, neither would make first-team All-ACC. Plumlee is averaging 18.2 points...

TDDTV: Mason Plumlee Interview

Duke's Mason Plumlee said that Quinn Cook was the team's rock in the first half.

Duke hangs on against UNC

Quinn Cook and Mason Plumlee scored 18 points each as Duke moved to 22-2 on the season with a five point victory over North Carolina on Wednesday night.

ACC Morning Linkfest 2/14 with Game Sim Predictions

Three good basketball games around the ACC last night.  Duke's win over UNC was the featured game of the night, but Miami and Boston College both picked up solid wins as well. UNC missed a chance for a big win last night.  The Blue Devils came out of the game not shooting well and the Heels had Cook, Curry, and Mason Plumlee in foul trouble in the first half.  Yet at halftime...

UNC Now has Five Fewer Fouls to Commit on Mason Plumlee

Roy Williams said during his pre-Duke game press conference that freshman center Joel James would be unavailable Wednesday night after having suffered a concussion against Wake Forest. According to Williams, James suffered a "blow to the head" in the Wake Forest game and had been experiencing headaches since then. Despite this James played nine minutes on Saturday versus...

College Basketball Daily Plays – 2/13

It is the best week in the college basketball regular season it’s rivalry week. Wednesday’s action features the best rivalry in all of sports North Carolina and Duke. See who I like and don’t like from this game and many other games on Wednesday. Must Plays: Mason Plumlee (Duke) – Plumlee made a smart decision to stay for his senior season at Duke. He is right in the middle...

Duke Spurts Past Tar Heels In Clash of Rivals

No one said it was going to be easy, well with the exception of the odds makers who had Duke as a 10.5 point favorite over their arch rivals, North Carolina. Duke didn’t play its best game but most fans will always take a win over arch rival North Carolina. What we ended up getting wasn’t a classic but a rather typical, hard fought, close game between the two bitter rivals...

Previewing UNC at #2 Duke

There is a fair amount of resignation within the Tar Heel fan base concerning how this game will go. Much of that is founded in the much talked about manner in which UNC has started games lately. The feeling is Duke will come out of the gate red-hot, can a few threes, get a couple of Mason Plumlee dunks and the Cameron crowd will go bonkers. The theory goes that UNC will be completely...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.