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SPORTS EXTRA / NCAA TOURNAMENT

Once Again, Duke Is Simply Better Than North Carolina

College basketball: Blue Devils rout Tar Heels, 79-53, to win the ACC tournament.

March 12, 2001|From Associated Press

Duke left little doubt about who rules one of college basketball's best rivalries, defeating North Carolina for the second time in a week and winning its third consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title.

The No. 3-ranked Blue Devils defeated the No. 6 Tar Heels, 79-53, Sunday in the tournament final before 40,000 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, taking control with a 19-1 run in the first half.

Duke (29-4) headed to the NCAA tournament as the top seed in the East Regional after becoming the first school in more than three decades to win the ACC tournament three times in a row.

"It feels kind of normal," said sophomore guard Jason Williams, who didn't play the final 13 minutes because of a sprained left ankle. "We have so much passion. We want it so bad."

For the second time in a week, Duke earned a double-digit victory over North Carolina (25-6). But this one was much more convincing than the 95-81 win at Chapel Hill on the final Sunday of the regular season.

The Blue Devils took control with a 19-1 run in the first half and led, 50-30, at halftime. North Carolina never got any closer and looked tired at the end.

It was the second-largest victory in ACC final history, topped only by the Tar Heels' 37-point victory over North Carolina State in 1968.

Mike Dunleavy scored 24 points and Shane Battier, the tournament MVP, added 20 for the Blue Devils, who won three games in three days without center Carlos Boozer, sidelined because of a broken bone in his right foot.

"To come here when people doubted us, doubting whether we had the legs to do it three days in a row, to win MVP, it's really storybook," said Battier.

"Our team was amazing," said Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who got his 600th win. "I know they were tired, but they played with great heart and beat an outstanding team."

Despite the loss, the Tar Heels (25-6) are seeded second in the South Regional (behind Michigan State) and hope to return to the Georgia Dome for the regional semifinals in a couple of weeks.

North Carolina was held to its fewest points since a 45-44 win over North Carolina State on Feb. 12, 1997--a span of 151 games. The Tar Heels shot 29% and had only one player, Joseph Forte with 14 points, in double figures.

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