Tyus Jones rescues Duke as Blue Devils rally to beat North Carolina in overtime

Throughout the storied rivalry that is separated by 8.1 miles between Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina split their prior 88 meetings.  In those 88 games, the margin of victory was 8 points (6,719 points for Duke, 6,711 for UNC).

Wednesday night in Durham, it was no different.  Even without famed ESPN commentator Dick Vitale missing out on all of fun for the first time since 1993 (thanks to the website Classic Sports TV for showing us two different games done by ABC Sports during that particular time), it was still like Jay Bilas said repeatedly over the Cameron Crazies, as “another great college basketball game.”

Trailing by 10 with four minutes left in regulation, it was the freshman from Apple Valley, Minnesota in Jones and Quinn Cook that helped the Blue Devils and their frenzied crowd get whooped into a frenzy.  Things looked a bit bleak early on when Jahlil Okafor went down hard after attempting a shot and landing awkwardly on his left ankle.  Coach K decided to sit him for a while and then he was medically cleared to play when the contest grew tighter.

The game went into overtime, but Duke made some key baskets led by the double-double posted from the aforementioned Okafor (13 points and 12 rebounds).  The Tar Heels stayed in it much of the way, largely thanks to Duke’s poor free-throw shooting and the great bench play from Isaiah Hicks–scoring 12 points to lead all bench scorers.

In the end, Duke made the hustle plays and Carolina could not nail any shot from long distance.  Trailing 92-89 with 3.5 seconds left, Nate Britt (11 points) was fouled 35 feet away from the basket.  He made the first foul shot and intentionally missed the second.  The ball caromed off the left side of the rim, but with two Tar Heel players failing to secure a rebound–it was Jones who let the clock run out and pretty much seal yet another 1 seed for Duke.

Duke shot 50.8 percent in this nearly 2 1/2 hour slug-fest (33 of 65), while North Carolina only shot 38 of 83 for 45.8 percent.

The other key game of note…and I guess Iowa State sent another team firmly on the bubble with the Cyclones hammering the Cowboys on the rebounding end, 44-28 and had 18 offensive rebounds to go with 21 second-chance points.  Iowa State won 70-65, thanks mostly to the great all-around performance by the 6’9″ first year junior Jameel McKay.

He had career highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds as Iowa State held off a late charge winning 70-65 at Oklahoma State.  His stat line read only 2 of 6 from the floor, but he made up for it in other areas.  He converted 13 of 18 free throw attempts while compiling nine offensive rebounds and four blocked shots.

You can safely add Oklahoma State and Cincinnati to the Stock Down pile as we keep Iowa State on the Stock Up line.  Xavier came up big on the defensive end in a very tight struggle with their neighbors 3.3 miles away in the Queen City.  The Bearcats may be either NIT, CIT, or CBI bound at this point.  Xavier again on most media members’ “bubble watches.”

Another shocking loss for Louisville, as they have dropped three of their last 4 contests–this time to a team with nothing but pride to play for, in snowy Syracuse.  That final score was 69-59 in favor of the Orange.

Otherwise, Arizona State at home stunned UCLA 68-66 and Northern Iowa continues to win big, this time winning by double digits while braving the bone-chilling winds around Loyola of Chicago.

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