CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Joel Berry II scored 21 points and Kenny Williams completed his return from a shooting slump by matching his career-high with 20 and No. 21 North Carolina beat No. 9 Duke at Dean E. Smith Center on Thursday night.
Berry II, who scored 12 of his total points in the second half, also had six assists, four rebounds and two steals, while Williams made six 3-pointers for the Tar Heels (18-7, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Graduate transfer Cameron Johnson had 18 points and 13 rebounds and Luke Maye ended with 15 points and eight rebounds for North Carolina, which used a 16-2 run at the start of the second half to erase a four-point halftime deficit and took a 61-51 lead.
Gary Trent Jr. scored 16 points and Marvin Bagley III had a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds for Duke, which was suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, following their shocking loss to St. John’s last Saturday.
Alex O’Connell hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points off the bench, while Wendell Carter Jr. had 10 points with five rebounds and two blocks for the Blue Devils (19-5, 7-4), who led 49-45 at halftime.
“The start of the second half, they played great and we were awful,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters.
“We turned a four-point lead into a 10-point deficit,” said Duke senior Grayson Allen, who finished with just nine points with seven assists and four rebounds.
“That’s hard to come back from against a really good team.”
The Tar Heels won the game despite shooting just 39 percent from the field.
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- No. 2 Virginia Rallies To Hold Off Florida State, 59-51
They played smarter, which contributed heavily to them matching a program record by having just two turnovers for the entire game, while winning the rebounding battle 44-38, including finishing with a 28-17 advantage in the second half.
The home side also had 20 offensive rebounds, compared to Duke’s 11 in the same category.
“Everybody crashed the boards,” said senior Theo Pinson, who grabbed seven rebounds.
“We told them at halftime: Me and Luke (Maye) are going to do everything we can to keep Carter and Bagley off the boards. You have to come in and rebound.”
“Once everybody got going we proved to ourselves how good we can be,” Williams said.
Thursday night’s game marked the 246th meeting between Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina with the Tar Heels now leading the series 136-110.
Prior to Thursday’s game, their last 100 head-to-head battles were split 50-50, which means the defending national champion took a slight edge ahead of the return meeting at Cameron Indoor on March 3.
The Duke Blue Devils make the trip to Georgia Tech on Sunday.
North Carolina Tar Heels are against North Carolina State on Saturday in Raleigh.