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Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2003 1:18 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(9) Duke 83, North Carolina 74
NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS
North Carolina Tar Heels
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DUKE BLUE DEVILS
Duke Blue Devils
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DURHAM, North Carolina (Ticker) -- The rivalry between Duke and North Carolina is alive and well.

Dahntay Jones collected 23 points and 13 rebounds as the ninth-ranked Blue Devils extended their home winning streak to 24 games with a spirited 83-74 Atlantic Coast Conference victory.

Before the contest, there was talk that the annual meetings between Duke (15-3, 5-3 ACC) and North Carolina (11-10, 2-6) had lost the luster of prior matchups between the perennial powers. Wednesday's game marked the first time since March 4, 1995 that both teams entered the meeting off losses.

"It was a great, great night for the ACC and for Duke and North Carolina," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "It was an honor to be in this game. This was a really good basketball game, one of the better ones I've been in the last couple years because of both teams playing so hard."

The Tar Heels, who suffered their fifth straight loss, played inspired basketball throughout and took a 61-59 lead on a 3-pointer by freshman Raymond Felton with 7:43 left. Felton led the Tar Heels with 25 points, including sinking four 3-pointers.

Freshman J.J. Redick answered with a layup and Jones scored the other seven points in a 9-2 run that put Duke ahead for good. An alley-oop dunk by Jones made it 68-63 with 4 1/2 minutes to go.

"Somebody had to step up, and I was just trying to make plays to help my team win, whether it was a rebound, a tip-in, a shot," Jones said. "I was just trying to do whatever to help my team win."

North Carolina cut the deficit to three on a short jumper by freshman David Noel before Chris Duhon responded with a 3-pointer and a shot from inside the arc to extend Duke's advantage to 73-65.

Redick netted 17 points and Duhon added 12 and 10 assists for Duke, which has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with North Carolina. The Blue Devils overcame a rough night from Daniel Ewing, who fouled out with 11 points and five turnovers.

"Chris has been under a lot of criticism lately, and for him to have a game like tonight is just so big for this team and so big for him and his confidence," Redick said. "In situations like tonight where it's close and guys are playing hard, we look to him to make plays, and we look to him to see the look on his face and the fire in his eyes. And he had that tonight."

Duhon did not start for the first time this season as Duke employed its 10th different lineup. He made 5-of-12 shots and came up with three steals in a terrific floor game. "It was coach's decision, and it was a good one," Duhon said. "The last couple of games, I haven't been playing to my capabilities. I've been letting my teammates down, and there's a point where you just have to say, 'That's it, we're going in another direction.' And it opened my eyes. It was something good for the team, and I just wanted to come out and give my heart to my teammates and my coaches."

The Tar Heels began the season 5-0 with victories over Kansas and Stanford, but have fallen on hard times. They fell to 4-7 since starting freshman center Sean May suffered a broken foot on December 27.

"It's been tough losing games, but I think you've seen the character of this team," North Carolina coach Matt Doherty said. "That they are not giving in, that they hung together, that they listen and they battle. I'm proud of them."

North Carolina played very well early and a dunk by freshman David Noel and a 3-pointer by Felton provided a 30-22 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half. Jawad Williams threw home a dunk with 25 seconds left in the half, but a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Redick narrowed Duke's halftime deficit to 43-38.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Duhon and Redick gave Duke a 51-48 lead. The Tar Heels answered with eight straight points, featuring a 3-pointer by Noel for a 56-51 edge with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Jones and Duhon then came up with numerous big plays down the stretch. It was Duhon who fed Jones on the alley-oop that made it 68-63.

"Obviously, Chris was great," Krzyzewski said. "He was such a good leader tonight - setting things up, communication with the bench. It was by far his best game."

Williams came up with 19 points and eight rebounds for the shorthanded Tar Heels, who used seven players in comparison to 11 for the Blue Devils. Noel scored a season-high 19 points and nailed three 3-pointers - he had only six this season prior to the game.

"David has gained confidence," Doherty said. "I (have) always taught that a coach can give half the package of confidence and players have to give the other half. I think by inserting David into the starting lineup against Wake Forest (on Sunday) he realized, 'Man, coach is confident in me,' and he responded."

But star Tar Heels freshman Rashad McCants made just 1-of-8 shots for two points, the first time this year he has been held below double figures. McCants came off the bench for the second straight game and has made just 10-of-39 shots over his last three games.

The Blue Devils held a 43-32 edge on the glass as Casey Sanders grabbed eight rebounds. Duke made 17-of-22 shots from the line while UNC was just 10-of-19.


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