CHAPEL HILL, N.C. HC — CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- For months now, North Carolina had been reading this and hearing that about Duke. How the Blue Devils were college basketball's next dynasty. How the Tar Heels had slipped a notch or two in the hierarchy of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
North Carolina put an end to those notions last night, as well as to Duke's unbeaten season and 23-game winning streak. Before a surprisingly nasty crowd of 21,572 at the Smith Center and a national television audience, the ninth-ranked Tar Heels shocked the nation's No. 1, 75-73.
"To defeat Duke at home, it was very exciting to say the least," said North Carolina coach Dean Smith. "We did make it exciting."
It didn't come easily for the Tar Heels. After leading by as many as nine in the second half, and by six with 2 minutes, 29 seconds remaining, North Carolina watched as Duke tied the game at 73 on a drive by Grant Hill with 62 seconds to go. And then things got a little crazy.
Or, as Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said later: "It was somewhat chaotic to say the least. A lot of crazy things happened."
Two free throws by Derrick Phelps gave the Tar Heels the lead with 44.5 seconds to go. Duke went to Christian Laettner, who missed a drive with 25 seconds left as Eric Montross stepped in front. With victory at hand, North Carolina proceeded to miss two shots, a drive by Brian Reese and a dunk follow by Montross with 11 seconds to go.
With one more shot to send the game into overtime, or win, Duke went back to Laettner. But the 6-foot-11 senior, who was held to 12 points, missed another layup and Phelps got the rebound as the buzzer sounded. Fans and players celebrated at the middle of the floor.
"We got a couple of good shots, but there was a lot of crazy stuff going on," said Krzyzewski. "I think a lot of people didn't know what the hell was going on."
The defeat for Duke (17-1, 7-1) was its first since a 97-74 loss to the Tar Heels in last season's ACC Tournament final. The Blue Devils went on to win the national championship and got off to their best start in school history. But North Carolina (16-3, 6-3) ended that run last night.
Trailing at halftime, 39-38, North Carolina scored the first 10 points of the second half to send the usually laid-back crowd into a frenzy -- well, almost a frenzy -- and give Duke its biggest deficit of the season.
The Blue Devils contributed to their problems, missing their first four shots and committing four turnovers. Duke didn't score for more than 4 1/2 minutes and didn't make a field for nearly six. The field goal, a shot in the lane by Grant Hill, cut North Carolina's lead to 50-43.
Then things got interesting. Umpire Donnee Gray whistled Tar Heels assistant Bill Guthridge for a technical, giving Bobby Hurley two free throws and the Blue Devils possession. Hurley, an 80.5 percent free-throw shooter, missed both shots. But Brian Davis made a driving layup to cut the deficit to five.
Thomas Hill, who kept the Blue Devils in touch, made a steal at one end and a three-pointer at the other. After an illegal screen was called against sophomore center Kevin Salvadori, the Tar Heels were over the limit with 12:41 left.
Just when it seemed as if Duke was back in control, cutting the deficit to 52-50, on a pair of free throws by freshman center Cherokee Parks, the Tar Heels held firm. A jumper by Hubert Davis and dunk by Salvadori sandwiched a block on Grant Hill. A 14-foot bank by Thomas Hill was followed by a three- pointer by Phelps.
Call it a three-point pass. Trying to lob the ball inside to Montross, the pass by Phelps found the bottom of the net. After another basket by Thomas Hill, Salvadori hit a turnaround baseline jumper over Laettner. Everything seemed to be going North Carolina's way.
But the Blue Devils wouldn't go away. A drive by Davis pulled Duke to within four, 67-63. After a missed one-and-one and a missed three-pointer by Hubert Davis, a free throw by Tony Lang cut it to three. After a missed jump hook by Montross, it was down to one on a driving dunk by Davis.
Duke had a chance to take the lead, when Davis blocked Brian Reese going up for a layup. Brian Davis then missed an off-balance drive, and Hubert Davis was fouled going up for a 17-footer with 5:17 to go. His two free throws put the Tar Heels back ahead by three.
On Duke's next possession, Laettner was called for charging. It was his fourth foul and he was replaced by Parks who, after a free throw by George Lynch gave the Tar Heels a four-point lead, was called for a crucial double-dribble.
The Tar Heels got off to a quick start, but Reese, their starting small forward, took a quick seat. The 6-6 sophomore picked up three fouls in less than three minutes.
Nevertheless, North Carolina jumped to a 9-4 lead by hitting four of its first six shots. But Duke, despite missing seven of its first 10, hung in with defense.