The Battle for Tobacco Road Comes to Brooklyn

It is considered the greatest and most coveted college basketball rivalry of all-time.

Even a total of 2,981 all-time meetings isn’t enough to cover the storied history between Duke and North Carolina.

From Jordan to Battier to Worthy to Hill to Laettner, this rivalry has also featured its share of Hall of Famers.

Well, in Brooklyn on Friday night, another great chapter was added to the Duke-UNC story.

The Blue Devils rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to knock off the top-seeded Tar Heels to advance to their first ACC Tournament final since 2014.

“Another great game. Holy mackerel. For us, in the last nine days, we play Florida State, Carolina twice, Clemson, and Louisville,” Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Wow, you know, just to play, and then to win all but one of them is terrific. Tonight, we beat an outstanding team, obviously a team that can win the national title.”

Down 61-48 with over 13 minutes left in regulation, Duke reeled off a 20-4 run in a five-minute stretch to take its first lead of the game at 68-65.

Junior guard Grayson Allen, sophomore guard Luke Kennard and freshman guard Frank Jackson all buried threes in the comeback effort for Krzyzewski’s squad.

UNC eventually came back to even the score at 70-all, but a 16-5 streak by Duke sealed the Blue Devils’ fate in a 93-83 victory.

“I mean, it’s huge (to beat North Carolina to advance to the ACC final),” Kennard stated. “Every win is huge for us. We’ve taken it one day at a time, one game at a time. That’s what Coach has been telling us. We’ve taken it day by day, making sure we’re ready to go, making sure we’ve been rested. It’s been good. Like I said, each win is a big win for us, and today was another one. It’s time to move on to the next one, and we’re excited for it.”

In the second half alone, Duke shot a stellar 59.1 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from three-point range.

The Blue Devils now advance to Saturday’s ACC Championship, where they will face either Florida State or Notre Dame at Barclays Center at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

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