THE OPENING TIP
- For the 256th time overall and the 96th meeting in the Coach K era, No. 9 Duke and North Carolina square off in the Battle of the Blues on Saturday night at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
- The game tips at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN with Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas on the call. On the radio locally, David Shumate and John Roth call the action on the Blue Devil Sports Network from Learfield.
- Carolina leads the overall series 141-114, but Duke is 49-46 vs. UNC under Mike Krzyzewski. The last 100 meetings are split 50-50.
- The Blue Devils, in sole possession of first place in the ACC, have won four straight games and six of their last seven, while the Tar Heels have won four straight, are 12-0 at home and sit a half game back of Duke in a three-way tie for second with Notre Dame and Miami.
- Six-time ACC Freshman of the Week, Paolo Banchero is averaging a double-double over Duke’s last six games with 17.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and a .506 field goal percentage in that span.
- Banchero, the ACC’s lone representative on the late-season watch list for the Wooden Award, has nine 20-point efforts this season — seven coming against power conference opponents — six in ACC play — in addition to 21 points vs. Gonzaga. He leads all scorers in ACC play at 19.1 and is second in ACC play in rebounds (9.4).
- Sophomore Mark Williams, a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, leads the ACC and is 11th nationally in blocks (3.2). Williams is Duke’s second leading scorer and rebounder over the last five games with 13.0 points and 9.0 boards.
- Freshman AJ Griffin set a Duke freshman record for three-point accuracy with his 5-of-5 at Louisville last Saturday, matching career highs in points (22) and made three-pointers (five).
- Griffin is the only power conference player — and one of 11 players nationally — shooting .500+ from three with a min. of 50 attempts.
- Duke leads the ACC in both field goal defense (.399) and three-point defense (.295) — one of just three power conference teams this season holding opponents to below .400/.300 (LSU, Michigan State).
- Since January 1, Duke opponents are shooting just .267 from three-point range — the best percentage defense by power conference teams in that span.
DUKE VS. NORTH CAROLINA
The 2021-22 season marks the 102nd anniversary of the first Duke-North Carolina game, which was played January 24, 1920 — a 36-25 UNC win in Durham … Saturday’s game in Chapel Hill is the 256th all-time meeting, with North Carolina leading the series, 141-114 … In Chapel Hill, Carolina leads 64-37, including a 20-16 record at the Dean Smith Center … Duke is 49-46 versus Carolina under Mike Krzyzewski … The series is tied 50-50 over the last 100 meetings … The match-up last Feb. 6 in Durham snapped an NCAA-record streak of 153 consecutive games in the series being played with at least one team ranked in the AP Top 25 … There have been 186 games between Duke and UNC in the AP Poll era (since 1948-49) and Duke has been ranked in 119 of them (69-50). When ranked, Duke is 26-8 against unranked Carolina teams.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY
The Duke-Carolina rivalry has been the most frequent match up on ESPN College Gameday, with Saturday’s game extending the record to No. 14 … Saturday also marks Duke’s 23rd College Gameday appearance — no program has made more appearances since the show began in 2005.
ON THIS DATE
Duke is 22-9 all-time when playing on Feb. 5 and has won six of the last seven and nine of the last 11 … Duke last played on this date in 2019 — an 80-55 win over Boston College at Cameron Indoor Stadium … Duke and UNC have met seven times on this date, with Duke winning four. The rivals last met on this date in 2004 — an 83-81 Blue Devils overtime victory in Chapel Hill.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
Since January 1, Duke opponents are shooting just .267 (51-of-191) from three-point range — the best percentage defense by power conference teams and 12th best overall in that span … Duke leads the ACC in both field goal defense (.399) and three-point defense (.295) — one of just three power conference teams this season holding opponents to below .400 from the field and below .300 from three-point range (LSU, Michigan State) … Duke has held eight of its last 10 opponents — and 14 for the season — to .300 or worse from behind the arc (12-2 in those games) … Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Notre Dame each made their fewest number of threes and shot their lowest percentage of the season against the Blue Devils — VT was 5-of-19 (.263), Wake was 2-of-16 (.125), Syracuse was 5-of-29 (.172) and Notre Dame was 3-of-18 (.167) … In Duke’s defensive gem at Notre Dame, the Irish were limited to a season-low 43 points, and it marked the fewest points Duke allowed in an ACC game since a 68-40 win over Clemson on Jan. 8, 2013. It was the fewest points Duke allowed in an ACC road game since a 56-41 win at Virginia on Feb. 16, 2011 … The Blue Devils limited ND’s high-scoring senior Dane Goodwin to the first scoreless game since his freshman season. Goodwin entered the game having scored in double figures in every game this season and was hitting .500 (48-of-96) from three-point range … Duke has held 14 of its 21 opponent this season to 70 points or less … For the year, Duke is 28th nationally in three-point defense (.295) … Two other opponents — Gardner-Webb (.125) and Lafayette (.259) — also shot their lowest three-point percentage this season.
SHARING AND SHOOTING THE ROCK
Duke enters the game with the nation’s third best assist/turnover ratio of 1.67. The Blue Devils also rank top 20 nationally and lead the ACC in field goal shooting (.483, ranked 19th in the NCAA) and assists (17.6, ranked ninth) … Duke has had a positive assist/turnover ratio in 18 of 21 games — its only games with a negative ratio came in wins over Kentucky, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame … The Blue Devils posted their best assist percentage in the Jan. 22 win over Syracuse, dishing out 25 assists on 30 made field goals (83 percent). Duke’s 25 assists were an ACC season high and matched its season best (25 vs. The Citadel) … Duke has averaged 18.7 assists as a team over the last six games and is dishing out a league-leading 16.6 dimes in ACC play … Duke is the only ACC team with three players in the league’s top 10 in assist/turnover ratio with Jeremy Roach ranked second (2.96), Trevor Keels ranked fourth (2.52) and Wendell Moore Jr. seventh (2.07).
WATCHING THE WATCH LISTS
Duke freshman Paolo Banchero is one of 20 nationally — and the ACC’s only player — on the late-season watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, presented annually to the player of the year in college basketball … The award has been presented to a Duke men’s basketball player six times in its 45-year history – the most by any program nationally. The Blue Devils’ most recent winner was Zion Williamson in 2019 … Banchero is also one of 10 on the watch list for the Karl Malone Award, presented to the top power forward … Junior Wendell Moore Jr., is one of 10 watch list members for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.
DUKE AWAY FROM CAMERON
In the Coach K era, Duke is 266-154 (.632) in true road games and 279-77 (.784) in neutral site games, for a combined mark of 545-231 (.706) in all games outside of Cameron Indoor Stadium … In ACC regular-season play, Duke is 195-128 (.602) away from home under Coach K … Coach K’s 195 ACC road wins are a conference record … Coach K has also won 16 road games against AP top five teams, the most in the history of the AP poll.