CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- This time it was Duke that was trailing with the ball in the final seconds. Despite two shots, it still lost.
Marvin Williams completed a three-point play with 17 seconds remaining and Sean May scored 26 points and grabbed a career-high 24 rebounds as second-ranked North Carolina avenged an bitter defeat with a 75-73 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over No. 6 Duke.
Back on February 9, the Tar Heels (26-3, 14-2 ACC) had the ball in the closing seconds down by a point, but Raymond Felton failed to drive and North Carolina turned the ball over without getting a shot, losing 71-70.
"Just like the one in Cameron, it came down to the last possession and they were better than we were in the last possession," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We're going to make some mistakes. We made a couple of them at the end, but overall, we didn't make a lot of (plays) to put us in a position where we're winning."
In this one, the Tar Heels appeared to be out of the game, but an improbable 11-0 run that was capped by a bank shot by Williams and the ensuing free throw put them ahead 75-73.
With 17 seconds left, Daniel Ewing brought the ball up the court and got it to J.J. Redick on the left wing, but his 3-pointer rolled out. Ewing grabbed the rebound, but his shot fell short right before the buzzer.
"We are fortunate they missed," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "We didn't do a great job, I wanted to hold them to one shot. We talked about that all year long in practice. We worked on a 'must-stop'. We had to get two 'must-stops' in a row."
"This team just had too much fight tonight," May said. "We just wanted to win and do whatever it took to win. Down nine with three minutes to go, I think everybody thought it was over. But, we didn't at all."
With the win, North Carolina clinched its first the ACC regular-season title outright in 12 years. As a favorable sign, that 1992-1993 team also went on to capture the NCAA title, beating Michigan on a mistaken timeout by Chris Webber.
The Tar Heels also went unbeaten at home (15-0) for the first time in 12 years, snapping a four-game losing streak to the rival Blue Devils. North Carolina captured its first win in the series since an 82-79 victory here on March 9, 2003.
After Lee Melchionni made his fifth 3-pointer of the second half to supply the Blue Devils (22-5, 11-5) a 73-64 lead with 3:07 to play, Jawad Williams followed a missed layup by May, Marvin Williams hit two free throws and May completed a three-point play to bring the Tar Heels within 73-71 with 1:44 remaining.
"We played hard and pushed hard for the majority of the second half," Duke center Shelden Williams said. "All of a sudden we got a little cushion and laid off some and had a few turnovers. Carolina was able to convert on those and got the momentum to turn things around and come back and win the game."
Felton had a chance to tie the game on North Carolina's next possession, but missed a jumper in the lane with 39 seconds left. The Tar Heels got the ball back with 27 seconds remaining after Ewing had the ball knocked away at midcourt.
"We were going to try to foul when there was about 37-38 seconds left," coach Williams said. "Yet we ended up forcing a loose ball and we ended up getting that and a timeout. We tried to make a play; we were not going to hold for the last shot."
Driving to the lane, Felton was fouled with 19 seconds to play and made the first of two free throws. In a battle for the rebound on the second, Marvin Williams came up with the ball and was fouled banking in a shot to give the Tar Heels a 74-73 lead.
"Raymond made a nice move and got fouled, made the free throw and then in probably one of the most impressive things of the whole game was how aggressively Raymond went after the offensive rebound on his own missed free throw," coach Williams said. "Marvin came up with it and that's talent, that's not coaching."
Duke, which missed its final four shots over the final 3:07, shot 46 percent (26-of-56), but made just 10-of-19 free throws, including 1-of-6 in the second half.
May shot 10-of-19 and pulled down 12 of North Carolina's season-high 21 offensive rebounds. He recorded his eighth straight double-double, becoming the first Tar Heel since Mitch Kupchak in 1975-76 to accomplish the feat. The junior center, who had 21 boards in an 83-81 overtime loss to Duke on February 5, 2004, has posted two of his three career 20-plus rebounding games against the Blue Devils.
"Twenty-six points and 24 rebounds is a big-time effort," coach Williams said. "We had some players that had some unbelievable efforts and that was one of them."
Jackie Manuel scored 12 points, Felton 11 and Marvin Williams had nine to go along with eight rebounds for North Carolina, which held a 48-30 rebounding edge in the contest.
The Tar Heels played their fourth straight game without leading-scorer Rashad McCants, who has been sidelined with a stomach problem.
Shelden Williams scored 22 points and blocked six shots and Redick chipped in 17 despite failing to score in the second half for the Blue Devils, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Redick went 0-of-6 with three misses from 3-point range in the second half.
"They just kept constant pressure," Krzyzewski said. "He had open looks, but you also know that they're going to keep fighting. So you're just going to get it for that fraction. He just missed some shots and then they played really good defense. It's that combination."