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College Basketball

An Unrivaled Rivalry

Great moments in Duke-UNC history

Posted: Tue February 3, 1998

The season's first meeting between top-ranked Duke and No. 2 North Carolina, on Feb. 5 in Chapel Hill, renews the fiercest rivalry in sports. We asked Sports Illustrated senior writer Alexander Wolff to take us on a spin through some especially memorable Duke-North Carolina games.

1996: North Carolina 73, Duke 72. Duke takes a huge 37-20 lead late in the first half and holds a 12-point advantage at halftime. Carolina trims it to two, but the Blue Devils rebuild an 11-point lead with 8:44 left.

Then the Tar Heels come back again. Shammond Williams's three-pointer pulls UNC within one, 72-71, with 58 seconds left. Duke turns the ball over in front of its own bench, and Williams forces a jump ball near midcourt after a scramble. Possession: Tar Heels.

Jeff McInnis dribbles the clock down, then drives the lane and dishes to Serge Zwikker on the left. Zwikker's shot is blocked by Greg Newton, but Dante Calabria tips in the deflection off the glass for a one-point UNC lead. Ricky Price's baseline jumper is short at the buzzer as Carolina escapes.

wallace.jpg (30k)1995: North Carolina 102, Duke 100. With the Blue Devils an uncharacteristic 0-7 in the ACC and their coach, Mike Krzyzewski, out for the year with a bad back, the second-ranked Tar Heels are heavily favored. Duke and Carolina play a double-overtime epic. The winning coach, Carolina's Dean Smith, who has seen a lot, says, "I've never seen anything like it."

That night, a Duke assistant coach says he witnessed three of the best plays he has ever seen college players make: 6'6" Tar Heel Jerry Stackhouse's in-transition flight past one Duke big man, Cherokee Parks, and over another, Erik Meek, to the far side of the rim for a reverse jam; a tap dunk in traffic by North Carolina's 6'10" Rasheed Wallace; and Parks's block of a dunk attempt by Stackhouse in the final minute of regulation. All three plays are incidental to the evening's greater drama.

Duke is down eight with 17 seconds to play in the first overtime. (That's precisely where North Carolina had stood in a game against Duke 21 years earlier, and the Tar Heels had come back and won.) Duke's Trajan Langdon sinks a shot from beyond the arc to make the score 94-89. McInnis drops in a free throw, but 10 seconds later Blue Devil Jeff Capel scores a layup, draws a foul and converts an old-fashioned three-point play. Suddenly Duke trails only 95-92. Serge Zwikker soon finds himself standing at the line for Carolina, contemplating two foul shots with four seconds remaining. He misses the first, then the second, at which point Capel rushes up the floor. Leaping off one foot, he loops the ball toward the hoop from a few steps inside half-court.

From his vantage point Tar Heel guard Pearce Landry knows the shot will fall. "It's the Cameron ghosts," he would say. "You know a shot like that is going in as soon as it goes up. You can't fight the ghosts."

Fate doesn't come entirely draped in royal blue this time, for Duke loses in the second overtime. But only by a few inches. Blue Devil freshman Steve Wojciechowski bounces a 10-footer off the back of the rim just before the buzzer, and thus Duke is deprived of a third overtime in which it might have done unto Carolina what the Tar Heels had once done unto Duke.

1989: North Carolina 77, Duke 74. The 1989 ACC tournament final in Atlanta is the single most intense renewal of the series. Carolina had gone seven years without winning the tourney title, and the Tar Heels had lost three times to the Blue Devils the year before, in what Duke folks still call the "Triple Crown Season." Carolina wins after Danny Ferry's 75-footer at the buzzer hits the back of the rim.

The outcome is less remarkable than the following exchange: At one point Krzyzewski, frustrated by the level of contact, screams at Scott Williams, "Don't foul so hard!"

Up gets Smith. "Don't talk to my players!" he hollers.

capel.jpg (31k) Which prompts Krzyzewski to turn to Smith and spew forth a hard Anglo-Saxon monosyllable beginning with f, followed by the second-person pronoun. It's probably safe to say that no one had ever before directed this combination of words at Dean Edwards Smith.

1984: Duke 77, North Carolina 75. The Tar Heels had become the first team in 10 years to go through the ACC undefeated (14-0), beating the Blue Devils 96-83 in double OT in Sam Perkins and Michael Jordan's last home game. But one week later, in the semifinals of the ACC tournament, Duke edges Carolina 77-75, the Devils' first win in the series since 1981. Krzyzewski calls it "probably the biggest win in the development of our program."

1984: North Carolina 78, Duke 73. The currently lofty level of the series can be traced less to a particular recruit than to a particular moment on a particular night when a particular fist came thundering down hard on the scorer's table. A few days before, president Terry Sanford had upbraided the Duke students for showering condoms and panties on a Maryland player recently involved in an incident with a coed. So, as the top-ranked Tar Heels take the floor at Cameron on Jan. 21, 1984, the students are wearing halos fashioned out of coat hangers and aluminum foil, and they hold aloft unctuous signs bidding A HEARTY WELCOME TO COACH DEAN SMITH AND THE NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS.


Duke-UNC Photo Gallery


With a few minutes left in the first half Smith becomes exasperated because a player of his isn't promptly buzzed into the game. He approaches the scorer's table, hoping to get someone to stop the clock. When play nonetheless continues, he impulsively tries to sound the horn himself. In his clumsiness he hits the wrong button and puts 20 extra points on the board for the Tar Heels. In the ensuing pandemonium, Smith receives no technical foul, and North Carolina goes on to win, part of a season-opening 21-game winning streak.

Afterward Krzyzewski is furious. ``Our students had class, and our team had class,'' he says. ``There was not a person on our bench who was pointing at officials or banging on scorer's tables ... So let's get some things straight around here and quit the double standard that exists in this league.''

1981: Duke 66, North Carolina 65. Before his last regular-season game, in 1981 against the Tar Heels, Duke's Gene Banks puts on a tuxedo and throws roses to the crowd at Cameron. A few hours later, with a second left to play in regulation, Banks sticks a thorn of a turnaround jumper in North Carolina to force overtime in a game the Blue Devils would win 66-65. ``It was the closest I've ever felt to being next to God,'' Banks has said. ``And I don't mean that to be blasphemous.''

1979: Duke 47, North Carolina 40. The Blue Devils lead 7-0 after a half in which the Tar Heels stay stubbornly in the Four Corners. Carolina's Rich Yonakor throws up two air balls, an achievement that is believed to have spawned the chant that has since spread from Cameron to every arena in the land.

1974: North Carolina 73, Duke 71. After the Tar Heels rally to tie the score at 71, UNC's Bobby Jones steals an inbounds pass at midcourt with four seconds remaining. He races in for an off-balance layup as time expires to give the Tar Heels the victory.

1974: North Carolina 96, Duke 92. In a game that would be eerily recalled 21 years later, the Tar Heels trail 86-78 with 17 seconds left. Bobby Jones sinks two free throws to cut the lead to six. Walter Davis steals Duke's inbounds pass and hits John Kuester for a layup, leaving UNC down four. Following another steal, Jones scores off an offensive rebound to pull the Heels within two with :06 left. Duke's Pete Kramer is fouled and misses the front end of a one-and-one, and Ed Stahl grabs the rebound and calls time with three ticks left on the clock.

Smith diagrams a play that calls for freshman Walter Davis to receive an inbounds pass at midcourt and get close enough to fire up a 20-footer. Davis launches a shot from 30 that banks in. Carolina goes on to win in overtime.

1968: Duke 87, North Carolina 86. The Tar Heels are done in by an unlikely hero. Junior backup center Fred Lind scores more points and plays more minutes than he had all season, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds and making clutch shots to force the first and second overtimes in the Blue Devils' triple-OT victory.

1966: Duke 21, UNC 20. In an ACC tournament semifinal, Smith decides to stall the entire game. The bigger and better Blue Devils had won both regular-season games by double digits, and Deano figures his team is no match for Duke's zone. The Blue Devils lead 7-5 at halftime (the Tar Heels had taken only five shots), and Mike Lewis hits the second of two free throws with four seconds left to win the game. Duke goes on to its third Final Four in four years.

1961: North Carolina 81, Duke 77. Duke's Art Heyman and Carolina's Larry Brown—rivals since their high school days on Long Island—start a brawl with nine seconds left that requires 10 cops to break up. A Durham lawyer with ties to the Tar Heels would swear out an assault warrant against Heyman over an altercation during the melee with a North Carolina male cheerleader.

Heyman believes private detectives hired by Tar Heel partisans tailed him for the rest of his career, which may explain why as a senior he was arrested at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., motel—where he and a lady friend had checked in as Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Robertson—and charged with transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes.

It was an early twist in what would become the one rivalry all other rivalries secretly wish to be.

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