Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - One of the greatest rivalries in all of sports will add another chapter to its storied history, as arch rivals Duke and North Carolina collide in an ACC showdown at the Smith Center on Thursday evening.
This game was originally scheduled for last week but moved due to severe weather conditions.
Mike Krzyzewski's Blue Devils are currently ranked fifth in the country, as they have come together of late with wins in four straight games and nine of their last 10 overall. Duke picked up its 21st overall win and 10th in the ACC with Tuesday's 68-51 road win at Georgia Tech.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels are also playing their best basketball of the season. North Carolina is sporting a season-high seven-game win streak at the moment, including an 81-75 road win at Florida State on Monday to move to 8-4 in the conference standings. The win was the 300th for Williams at North Carolina.
North Carolina holds a 132-104 lead in this legendary series, but Duke swept a pair of games last year and has won seven of the last nine meetings, overall. UNC is 60-34 against Duke in Chapel Hill, but just 15-13 in the Smith Center.
Duke is in the midst of a three-game slate over the span of five days. The team opened up the set with a solid win over the Yellow Jackets in which the visitors never trailed and led by double digits over the final 28 minutes of the game. Freshman phenom Jabari Parker continued his torrid pace, recording a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Rodney Hood connected on four 3- pointers and finished with 14 points in the game, while Rasheed Sulaimon checked in with 11.
A potent offensive squad, Duke comes in averaging 81.2 ppg, thanks in large part to its accuracy from long range. The Blue Devils are averaging 9.5 3- pointers per game (sixth nationally) and shooting .416 from behind the arc (fourth nationally). Parker has lived up to the hype and may be the best player in the country despite his youth. The 6-foot-8 forward ranks second in the ACC in scoring (19.2 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.7 rpg). A transfer, Hood has made an immediate impact as well, pouring in 16.2 ppg. Quinn Cook provides a third scoring threat at 12.0 ppg, while ranking third in the ACC in assists (4.9 apg). Further depth comes in the form of Sulaimon (9.3 ppg) and Andre Dawkins (9.2 ppg).
The 3-pointer isn't a prominent weapon in North Carolina's arsenal, but the Tar Heels have been effective at the offensive end of the floor this season, shooting .458 overall, leading to 76.0 ppg. Marcus Paige has elevated his game this year and currently leads UNC in both scoring (17.2 ppg) and assists (4.6 apg). James Michael McAdoo adds balance with his frontcourt play, netting 14.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per outing. Brice Johnson has been a valuable asset off the bench with his 10.4 ppg and 6.4 rpg. Leslie McDonald rounds out the top scoring threats on the roster at 10.2 ppg.
The Tar Heels trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half, but battled back to earn the six-point win in Tallahassee. Freshman Kennedy Meeks netted a career-high 23 points in the win. The effort was certainly needed, as McAdoo, who had scored in double figures in 17 straight outings, failed to register a single point before fouling out of the game. Paige had a strong game, pouring in 20 points and doling out seven assists, while Johnson recorded a double- double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes of work off the bench.