The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Beyond the Bison: UNC takes down Duke in first rivalry matchup of 2024

Evelyn+Pierce%2C+Graphics+Manager+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Evelyn Pierce, Graphics Manager / The Bucknellian

#3 North Carolina took down #7 Duke in the matchup of debatably one of the best rivalries in college basketball. Carolina took home-court advantage, dominating the game the entire way and earning a 93-84 victory.

The Tar Heels controlled the entire way with their elite defense, which is ranked 8th at kenpom.com in defensive efficiency. Elite defense has carried the Heels all year and propelled them into the conversation for earning the one seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Duke’s lack of a true five-man in the starting lineup got exposed in this one, as Armando Bacot got everything he wanted on the offensive end, going for 25 points and 10 rebounds. Especially in Bacot’s fifth season, which is also his worst statistically since his freshman and sophomore years, the inability of Duke to contain him inside poses major issues for the Blue Devils’ future.

Stanford transfer wing Harrison Ingram continues his stellar season for Carolina after a couple of disappointing campaigns out west. He’s had a few games this year where he’s equally unstoppable on offense and defense, and his length, athleticism and ability to guard just about every position on the floor is a huge plus for Carolina. Ingram went for 21 points, 13 rebounds, and a crazy four steals. Going 5-9 from three-point range, he was the X-Factor for the Heels all night, and when he’s at his best, this team can seriously contend for a national championship.

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What I thought Duke needed to do to win this game was shut down RJ Davis, who has probably been playing better than any point guard in the country. And, they did just that. Davis did have 17 points but on 14 shots, even with zero points going into the second half. I was just wrong in thinking that was all the Blue Devils needed to focus on defensively, as they let Bacot and Ingram go for over 20, really sealing the deal.

Seth Trimble also provided a huge spark for UNC with 10, and as a player not known for having a developed offensive game, he showed his ability to create himself.

As for Duke, they looked great offensively. Jared McCain, Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach all went for over 20 points. Besides the defensive struggles, I wonder if Duke has enough consistent scoring outside of those three guys to compete for a title.

Tyrese Proctor, who had been averaging 19 points over his previous three games, went 1-6 from the field for 2 points. After a really slow start to the year, I thought Proctor was coming into his former self. And this now shows in order for Duke to really compete, he needs to be shooting well.

It can definitely seem at times that Duke struggles a lot to find offense when outside shots aren’t going down. As the best three-point shooting team in the ACC, Duke has been able to stay in games when the paint has been taken away due to having shooters everywhere. But, going 5-19 from 3 in this one, it didn’t look like Duke had any rhythm creating downhill toward the basket. Duke actually won the paint battle 54-36, but they struggle to stay consistent when it comes to having to create inside consistently.

For UNC, I think this team is as good as any in the country. They are elite defensively, have an All-American caliber leader in RJ Davis, and some extremely talented pieces around him such as Elliot Cadeau, Bacot, Ingram and Cormac Ryan. After getting it done at home against their arch rival who just so happens to be a top-10 team nationally, the Heels are in a really good spot.

As for Duke, I think this team’s ceiling is definitely a Final Four or national championship appearance. But, they’ve got a way to go, especially defensively. I think Jon Scheyer will figure out a consistent offensive game plan as the season goes on. This team is too talented, and with a lot of young pieces, it can take time to gel together.

But defensively, the connection from the five guys on the floor needs to be so much better. Giving up 93 points to your rival on the road is just not going to cut it.

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