The No. 2 Blue Devils had a very tough night less than 48 hours ago when they took an 83-61 drubbing in their long-anticipated meeting with No. 1 and defending national champion Connecticut.
Tonight’s opponent is Albany, a nice team from the America East Conference that suffered its first loss in nine games this season on Sunday at home against Quinnipiac.
The Great Danes’ coach is Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, who was on Joanne P. McCallie’s staff when the current Duke mentor was at Michigan State.
Duke plays an awful first half but recovers easily, rolling to an 80-51 win.
DEAN E. SMITH CENTER/ CHAPEL HILL—The Tar Heels continued their topsy-turvitude last night, losing at home to unranked Texas, which won't be unranked anymore. The 10-1 Longhorns, kind of a discount Kentucky in many ways, just needed a win over a respected program to prove their worth. After the game, their head coach, Rick Barnes, whose infamy in Tar Heel lore has faded over time, pulled the old coaching trick of saying he pays no attention to the rankings but then recalling how he told one of his assistants that Texas was not only unranked; they probably didn't even have a single vote in the polls. (He was right; they didn't). That thing he supposedly wasn't paying attention to may in fact have been motivation for him, and perhaps transitively for his team.
Motivation. Drive. The knack and how to get it. Whatever you want to call it, it's a foundation of coaching young athletes. How do you get players to play hard, anyway? Texas is a very young team, as UNC-Chapel Hill is, even with senior Leslie McDonald reinstated last night. (McDonald immediately became Carolina's no. 2 three-point shooter this season by hitting four of them in 22 minutes. That's how anemic Carolina is as a three-point shooting team.) Still, the Longhorns took it right to Carolina early. They played harder, got nearly twice as many first-half rebounds, controlled loose balls and drove to the lane repeatedly, resulting in either easy baskets, fouls, or second-chance offensive rebounds. At halftime, they had scored a staggering 53 points, and led by 11.
Carolina tightened the rebounding margin, and the score, in the second half—somehow they had a chance to send the game into overtime on the final possession, despite their poor play—but their return to horrific free throw shooting doomed them. (Carolina couldn't overcome one of these failures against Belmont and Alabama-Birmingham; how could they have expected to overcome both?) At home against Belmont a month ago, they missed 26 of 48 free throws and lost by three points. At home against Texas last night, they missed 23 of 47 free throws and lost by three points again. Take away Marcus Paige, who is the only dependable player on the team in any facet of the game, and the Tar Heels shot a combined 37-82 (45 percent) from the free throw line in the two losses.
After the game, Roy Williams said: "You've got to be tough enough to step up and make the dadgum thing or go play soccer." No discussion of form, practice, hands, nothing like that. It's not about execution. Free-throw shooting is mental. You've got to be tough enough. Williams said that twice: tough enough.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM The seniors on the Duke women’s basketball team get one more shot at this tonight — at least during a regular season.
The game they may have been dreaming about is here, since they’re undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the nation heading into their battle with No. 1 and defending NCAA champion Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic.
Connecticut has won six straight in the series and leads it 9-3. Duke’s best showing against UConn under seventh-year coach Joanne P. McCallie was a 61-45 loss here two seasons ago.
It’s the first time a No. 1 has visited a No. 2 since Connecticut’s 88-58 romp over UNC in 2009.
And once again it isn’t really close, as the Huskies are never challenged in the second half in rolling to an 83-61 win.
Tonight at Bank of America Stadium, the No. 20 Blue Devils (10-2) will take on No. 1 Florida State (12-0) for the ACC championship and a guaranteed spot in the Orange Bowl.
If FSU wins, of course, it will play either Ohio State or Auburn for the National Championship.
The Blue Devils have their best team since at least 1941 and David Cutcliffe has built a quality program, but they’re 0-for-Florida State lifetime and come into the contest as 30-point underdogs.
Only Boston College, which lost 48-34 at home on Sept. 28, has finished within 27 points of the Seminoles. And FSU will have starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who was cleared of possible rape l charges earlier in the week.
Game-time temperature will be in the upper 40s with a chance of rain.
Duke plays an awesome first quarter but it all goes downhill from there, as the Seminoles roll 45-7.
I never heard anybody predict Duke was going to finish this regular season 10-2 and as ACC Coastal Division football champions.
Now, I knew the Blue Devils were going to be decent this year. Picked them fifth in the division with a 7-5 record after going 6-7 last season that ended in a close, painful loss in the Belk Bowl.
But an eight-game winning streak and the best season in school history since 1941?
But that’s the case as the No. 20 Blue Devils take on consensus No. 1 Florida State (12-0) for the ACC championship tonight at 8 (ABC. Yes, National) in Charlotte.
Mind-boggling, isn’t it?
But the last time the Blue Devils played a game this important was that Rose Bowl in Durham following the 1941 season.
With a win over traditional multiple arch-rival UNC today No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC) will have its first 10-win season in school history, earning a spot in the ACC Championship game against No. 2 Florida State on Dec. 7 in Charlotte with a shot at the automatic berth in the Orange Bowl.
All of which would make the annual battle for the Victory Bell a big game for the Tar Heels anyway. UNC (6-5, 4-3) earned a bowl berth with its 80-20 rout of Old Dominion last week, and although the tiebreakers allow the Tar Heels no chance to play in Charlotte next weekend they would be able to claim some share of the Coastal Division title for the second straight year with a victory.
The Tar Heels, who had won eight straight in the series until Duke broke the spell with a 33-30 result last year in Durham, are listed as three-point favorites. It’s of course Senior Day for UNC, and star junior tight end Eric Ebron — who has announced he’ll enter the NFL draft — will also be honored.
Regardless of today’s outcome UNC is a heavy favorite to play in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 28; the bowl’s executive director Will Webb said his group is scouting no other ACC games today.
Duke gets the historic victory, winning 27-25 on a late drive, field goal and interception.
Time was when the annual season-ending battle between Duke and UNC was the biggest football game of the year in the Triangle.
And this time, the “Battle of the Blues” for the coveted Victory Bell is back, although it has a little different twist.
This time it’s the Tar Heels’ turn to play spoiler.
No. 24 Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC) is having its best season since the ACC was formed, and the Blue Devils will play No. 2 Florida State for the conference championship Dec. 7 in Charlotte if they win today.
Duke has won seven straight games, two more than the five-game streak of UNC (6-5, 4-3) since the Tar Heels’ snakebitten and disastrous-looking 1-5 start.
Game time is noon (ESPN2) at Kenan Stadium, which may end up being a hard sellout for the first time for a Duke game in a very long time.
There is one other game in the Triangle today, as N.C. State (3-8, 0-7) hosts Maryland (6-5, 2-5) at 12:30 (WRAL) at Carter-Finley Stadium. It’s the Terps’ final ACC conference football game before their move to the Big Ten next year.
N.C. State has been able to coast through its first four women’s basketball games of the season, beating outgunned opposition by an average of 32 points.
The Wolfpack won’t likely win like that today.
This time first-year coach Wes Moore plays for the first time against a major opponent when Tulane (4-0) visits.
Wake Forest alum Lisa Stockton’s team, like the Wolfpack, was in the WNIT last season. But Tulane won 25 games.
This is the schools’ first meeting in women’s basketball. If State wins today, it could be considered one of the school’s best athletic victories since the baseball sub-regional last spring.
This time State establishes control in the first few minutes and holds a working margin throughout, cruising to a 59-46 victory.
For East Carolina (8-2) it has all been a pretty good dream. The Pirates already have a 55-31 rout at UNC under their belts, and look for the UNC-N.C. State sweep for the first time in school history.
But for N.C. State (3-7) it’s about ending a bad season on a good note. In Dave Doeren’s first season at the helm the Wolfpack is 0-7 in the ACC, on a six-game losing streak, and has to win today to avoid losing to all four FBS opponents in the state in the same season for the first time ever.
And it turns out to be a good day for the Pirates and a tough one for the Wolfpack, as ECU rolls 42-28.