HOW THE TAR HEELS WON: After an eight-day wait, the first Duke-North Carolina matchup of the year didn't disappoint.
North Carolina overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to beat No. 6 Duke, 74-66, sparking a rare court-storming scene at North Carolina.
Duke ranks second nationally in offensive efficiency and third in three-point shooting percentage. But the Tar Heels disrupted Duke's outside shooters, forcing the Blue Devils to struggle from three-point range throughout.
UNC also won despite a fast start by Duke's Rodney Hood, who scored 11 points in the game's first eight minutes, and horrendous free-throw shooting early in the first half.
Entering the game, UNC was 77 of 158 in the seven games it lost.
"That's a joke," ESPN's Dick Vitale said of that statistic.
The Tar Heels made just 1 of their first 8 free-throw attempts against Duke.
After committing five total turnovers in its last game against Georgia Tech, Duke committed five by the first television timeout Thursday. But the Blue Devils didn't turn the ball over again the rest of the half. But by the final television timeout of the half, Duke had outscored UNC 16-3 in points off turnovers.
In the second half, Quinn Cook's layup ended a nearly six-minute scoring drought for Duke. But UNC continued its rally, tying the game at 60 with 4:20 remaining.
But UNC outplayed Duke down the stretch, and its defense was a major factor.
STAR WATCH: After scoring zero points in the first half, North Carolina's Marcus Paige scored 13 points in the second half and was a huge offensive catalyst.
Duke's Quinn Cook played an all-around strong game. He was disruptive defensively and a facilitator offensively. Marshall Plumlee was extremely active and made several hustle plays to keep possessions alive. And freshman Jabari Parker had a double-double for Duke.
WHAT THIS MEANS IN A NUTSHELL: North Carolina coach Roy Williams was animated throughout the game on the bench. It's been a trying year for the Hall of Fame coach, but he has done a stellar job steadying the team after large doses of adversity.
During non-conference play, the Tar Heels lost to Belmont and Alabama-Birmingham, and they lost last season's leading scorer, P.J. Hairston, because of eligibility concerns. Making matters worse was an 0-3 start in ACC play.
But now North Carolina is comfortably an NCAA tournament team. And the Tar Heels are climbing.
Their weaknesses are three-point shooting and free-throw shooting. But they are a strong offensive rebounding team and they can guard, especially at the three-point line. In ACC games, the Tar Heels lead the league in three-point percentage defense. They also lead the ACC in rebounding margin, offensive rebounding, assists and steals.
Consider North Carolina and Virginia among the teams you'd least want to play in the ACC right now.
Duke is in the midst of playing four games, including three on the road, in an eight-day period. It won't get any easier Saturday when the Blue Devils host a Syracuse team still stinging from its shocking loss to Boston College.
TWEET THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES: UNC certainly isn't lacking in the signature wins category on its résumé.
AND-1: Duke had 18 points off turnovers in the first half. It had zero in the second half.
Eric Prisbell, a national college basketball reporter for USA TODAY Sports, is on Twitter @EricPrisbell.