Unpacking UNC basketball's loss at Duke – and Armando Bacot's performance in thriller
DURHAM – North Carolina basketball and Duke delivered another classic on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
This time, the Tar Heels were on the losing end of a thriller with the Blue Devils earning a 63-57 victory to snap a two-game losing streak in college basketball's fiercest rivalry.
Dereck Lively II had a monster game with 14 rebounds, eight blocks and the go-ahead dunk for Duke (17-6, 8-4 ACC), which saw Jeremy Roach add 20 points — including clutch free throws — to aid the effort.
KEY STAT:What UNC basketball’s Hubert Davis said about Tar Heels’ lack of free throws in loss at Duke
Four players finished with double-digit points for UNC (15-8, 7-5). Armando Bacot (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Leaky Black (13 points, 10 rebounds) had double-double performances, with Caleb Love scoring 12 points and RJ Davis adding 11.
But unlike the Tar Heels' victories in 2022 against the Blue Devils, UNC faltered down the stretch in the latest meeting. After knotting the game at 57, the Heels didn't score in the final four minutes, missing its final five shots of the game.
Armando Bacot keeps UNC afloat
In a choppy first half that saw both teams combine to miss 40 of their 66 shot attempts, Bacot kept the Tar Heels afloat with 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists as UNC went into the locker room down 33-32.
Despite the defensive prowess of Duke freshman Dereck Lively II – who had four blocks in the first half – UNC had a 16-14 advantage in the paint with six layups and two dunks.
After struggling in the loss to Pitt, RJ Davis got off to a strong start with six points and three assists before picking up his second foul with 8:44 left in the first half.
But Duke thrived in transition with a 16-0 advantage in fast-break points. The Blue Devils outscored UNC 20-2 in the open floor.
Wake Forest, Clemson up next
Things don’t get easier for the Tar Heels, who travel to Wake Forest (15-9, 7-6) on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN) before hosting Clemson (18-6, 10-3) on Saturday (2 p.m., ESPN2) at the Smith Center. The Tigers are among the top three teams in the ACC standings.
Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @RoddBaxley on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Unpacking UNC basketball's loss at Duke – and Armando Bacot's big game