DURHAM, N.C. – At 9:02 p.m. Wednesday, eight minutes before No. 4 Duke and No. 15 North Carolina tipped off the 239th game of their rivalry, players and coaches from both teams huddled at midcourt of Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski placed his arm around the shoulders of North Carolina coach Roy Williams. Players followed suit with one another. All the people on the court knelt in a circle and bowed their heads. The public address announcer asked the sold-out crowd to stand.
Then the stadium fell silent.
The moment was a tribute to Dean Smith, the legendary Tar Heels coach who died Feb. 7 at 83. For almost 60 seconds, it was presumably the quietest that Cameron Indoor, known for its noise, had ever been. A picture of Smith's smiling face, with the words "Thank you, Coach Smith," was displayed on the video board. Fans held up signs honoring Smith. One featured a photograph of Smith coaching and a Krzyzewski quote about him: "We have lost a man who can never be replaced."
Duke overcame a 10-point deficit with less than four minutes remaining in regulation and rallied to win in overtime 92-90 in yet another classic game in the series. Freshman point guard Tyus Jones of Apple Valley led the comeback and finished with 22 points, and Quinn Cook, who made six of nine shots from three-point range, also scored 22.
"It's tough for this game to always live up to the hype," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "But I think tonight's game exceeded it."
In a thriller befitting college basketball's most intense rivalry, the Blue Devils (23-3, 10-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) let an early 13-point lead slip away and trailed by 10 with less than four minutes left in regulation before rallying for their sixth straight win this season, and their ninth in 12 meetings in the series.
Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson each scored 18 points to lead North Carolina (18-8, 8-5). Nate Britt pulled the Tar Heels within two with one free throw with 3.5 seconds left. He missed the second, Marcus Paige raced in and got his hands on the rebound — but Justise Winslow grabbed it as the buzzer sounded.
"My teammates came to battle," said Paige, who finished with five points on 2-for-11 shooting. "They played fantastic the whole game. And I didn't really give them anything."
Britt put the Har Heels up by 10 with less than four minutes to play with his knifing layup through the lane. And then the Blue Devils stormed back.
"It's not like we drew up anything," Krzyzewski said. "When they came back, that was on them. We just said, 'Play, man. Follow your instincts and play.' And they did."
Jones scored nine straight points for Duke, and his driving layup with 27.5 seconds left tied it at 81.
North Carolina had possession last in regulation, milking most of the clock before getting the ball to Paige.
The preseason All-America took one dribble and tossed up a three-pointer that bounced hard off the iron.