No. 12 Duke 80, No. 19 North Carolina 73
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ Trajan Langdon might have the sweetest jump shot in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
You certainly won’t get any argument from No. 19 North Carolina after Langdon scored a career-high 28 points Wednesday night as 12th-ranked Duke broke a seven-game skid against its archrival with an 80-73 victory Wednesday night.
``There’s no doubt, we see it every day,″ Duke point guard Steve Wojciechowski said when asked if Langdon is the best shooter in the ACC. ``He flat out shoots it, and it’s not like he’s wide open. He has got guys draped all over him and he bottoms it out every time. He’s amazing.″
Langdon’s seventh 3-pointer of the game, with 41 seconds left, gave Duke a 75-70 lead and sealed the Blue Devils’ first win over the Tar Heels since 1993.
``I feel like every shot Trajan takes is going to go in. He had his feet set, he got a good look at the hoop, and when he does that, there is a heck of a chance for it to go in,″ Wojciechowski said of the late 3-pointer that iced the game.
The key play, set up out of a Duke timeout, was actually meant to go elsewhere, but North Carolina’s defense prevented the Blue Devils’ initial inside option.
``We had designed a play, but they took it away when they went to a zone,″ said Langdon, whose previous high was 25 points against Clemson earlier this season. ``Jeff Capel penetrated and drew defenders and kicked it to me. I think they just lost me.″
How could the Tar Heels lose a player as hot as Langdon was all night?
``It seemed like they were getting a little bit tired on the defensive end,″ Langdon said. ``I think we wore them down a bit. That was our plan of attack.″
``They set some great picks,″ North Carolina guard Shammond Williams said of the Blue Devils’ ability to free Langdon. ``We set picks, but we don’t do it right. When we watch tape now, we’ll probably pick up some things from Duke on how to set picks.″
North Carolina coach Dean Smith warned his players of Langdon’s shooting skills prior to the short 15-minute drive from Chapel Hill to Durham.
``We had an asterisk by one name _ No. 21 _ and we said, `He can’t get a good look, don’t leave him for anything,‴ Smith said of Langdon. ``They did a good job getting him open, and Langdon really put on a show.″
The game featured 17 lead changes and seven ties. Neither team led by more than seven points in the 197th meeting of the storied rivalry.
``We feel very privileged to have won a game like this,″ Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ``I sincerely want to thank our students for making this an amazing game for us. When Trajan hit that 3, it was as loud for as long as you can get.
``I thought our poise down the end, to get good shots, to hit free throws and make great decisions ... was impeccable,″ Krzyzewski added. ``In a game like this, with all the emotion, you like to see people do their best in that type of setting, which I think our kids did. We had to in order to have a chance to win.″
The victory keeps the Blue Devils (16-5, 5-3) in the thick of the ACC race, while the Tar Heels fell to 12-6, 3-5.
Besides Langdon, Capel was big down the stretch. He finished with 19 points and made several big defensive plays.
Serge Zwikker led the Tar Heels with 14 points, while ACC scoring leader Antawn Jamison, plagued with foul problems, was held to a season-low 10 points and four rebounds.
``We tried to keep one guy assigned to him at all times, but certainly his foul trouble hurt him,″ Krzyzewski said of Jamison, who was averaging 21.2 points coming into the game. ``It’s a lot easier blocking him out when he’s on the bench. The nature of the game helped us. We were fortunate he didn’t hurt us more.″
North Carolina was just the second team this season to shoot over 50 percent against Duke, but the Tar Heels turned the ball over 25 times and had trouble getting the ball inside down the stretch.
``I’m anxious to get out of here and watch the tape on why we couldn’t get it inside,″ Smith said.