by Aaron Beard, Associated Press
CHAPEL HILL–Joel Berry II scored 28 points — including a critical late-game burst of seven straight for his team — to help No. 5 North Carolina hold off No. 17 Duke 90-83 on Saturday night.
Isaiah Hicks added 21 points for the Tar Heels, who battled through a nearly shot-for-shot fight with their fiercest rival to finish unbeaten at home. The game featured 24 lead changes and 14 ties before UNC (26-6, 14-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) finally pushed ahead for good in the final six minutes, with its final margin the biggest lead for either team all night.
Berry shot 9 of 14 and made all five of his 3-pointers to offset a tougher shooting night for leading scorer and ACC player of the year candidate Justin Jackson.
Luke Kennard, another league player of the year contender, finished with 28 points to lead the Blue Devils (23-8, 11-7).
North Carolina shot 51 percent and finished with a 15-5 edge in second-chance points, helping to offset a busy night for Duke at the foul line. The Blue Devils made 28 of 35 free throws but missed four — three by Grayson Allen — in the final 3½ minutes as Berry made his move.
Duke shot 54 percent in the first half but just 37 percent after halftime.
"You saw a game where a lot of guys played well," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "And that's it. Sometimes, it's not nuclear science here. It's that easy."
It was an eventful night in the rivalry. Allen, who finished with 14 points, received a technical foul for hitting defender Brandon Robinson in the head with an elbow while being fouled on a first-half drive.
Allen was booed loudly every time he touched the ball all night.
The game also drew former UNC and NBA great Michael Jordan, who appeared at halftime with North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora to announce a Jordan Brand apparel deal with the program.
Jackson finished with 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting while going just 1 of 7 on 3-point tries — though his only make came during the Tar Heels' game-clinching burst to help them win the ACC regular-season race by two full games. The Tar Heels ended the night by cutting down the home nets to mark the regular-season crown, a Senior Night tradition under Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams when UNC has closed out an ACC title with a win.
Duke: The Blue Devils were playing to secure a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament and the double-round bye that comes with it. They couldn't quite hang on to get it, ending up with the No. 5 seed and a single-round bye in Brooklyn.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels had clinched the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament last weekend, then earned the outright regular-season title with No. 8 Louisville's home win against No. 19 Notre Dame earlier Saturday. This win evened up the season series in the rivalry with Duke after UNC lost last month at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke: The Blue Devils will open play in the ACC Tournament in Wednesday's second round.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels will open play in the ACC Tournament in Thursday's quarterfinals.