Missing their inside presence, the Duke Blue Devils stayed outside and made ACC history.
With Jason Williams scoring 33 points and Shane Battier getting 25 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, the third-ranked Blue Devils went 14-for-38 from 3-point range Sunday in a 95-81 victory over No. 6 North Carolina.
Duke (26-4, 13-3), playing without injured starting center Carlos Boozer of Juneau, moved into a tie for first place with the Tar Heels (23-5, 13-3), setting an Atlantic Coast Conference record by winning or tying for its fifth straight league title.
"This is the result of coming to work every single day with the dedication needed to be a champion," Battier said. "Not once, but five times. That will be something to look back on."
While it seemed everyone else was worried about how Duke could make up for the loss of Boozer, who broke a bone in is right foot, the Blue Devils concentrated on other things.
"We came into this game not worrying about Xs and Os," said freshman Chris Duhon, who had 15 points and four assists in his first career start. "This game was more about heart and desire and a will to win. We knew we were outsized, we knew we were going against the world, but we had a bigger heart, a bigger will to come out and quiet all the critics."
Williams was 7-for-13 from 3-point range, while Battier was 4-for-10 as the Blue Devils won in Chapel Hill for the third straight year. The 38 3-point attempts tied a school record set earlier this season against North Carolina A&T.
"The way they played broke our rhythm," UNC coach Matt Doherty said. "I don't think we were real sharp handling the basketball. You've got to give them a lot of credit because they came into a tough situation being a man down."
Joseph Forte, the ACC's leading scorer, led the Tar Heels with 21 points.
Duke led by two at halftime, but gradually pulled away midway through the second half. The Blue Devils went up 72-57 with 11:55 left on a layup by Mike Dunleavy.
Making his point: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, right, discusses strategy with point guard Jason Williams. Williams scored 33 points to lead Duke.
GRANT HALVERSON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Tar Heels were shooting for their first outright ACC regular-season title in eight seasons, but the Smith Center crowd instead exited early on Senior Day as Duke improved to 19-0 this season when scoring 90 or more points.
"They took something away from us -- definitely," North Carolina's Jason Capel said.
The victory also gave Duke an ACC-record 124 wins in a four-year period, breaking the mark of the Duke teams from 1989-92.
No. 4 Illinois 67, Minnesota 59
Frank Williams scored 15 points to lead the visiting Illini (23-6, 13-3) to a share of their second Big Ten Conference title in four seasons. Bill Self became the first coach in 22 years to win a title in his first season in the Big Ten. Because of their win over co-champion Michigan State in their only meeting, the Illini will be the top seed in this week's conference tournament.
Terrance Simmons had 19 points to lead the Gophers (17-12, 5-11).
No. 5 Florida 94, No. 15 Kentucky 86
Teddy Dupay matched his career high with 28 points, and the Gators (22-5, 12-4) earned a share of the Southeastern Conference title with the win over the other co-champion.
Keith Bogans had a career-high 29 points for the visiting Wildcats (19-9, 12-4), who made several runs in the second half, but couldn't overcome a 15-point deficit. Because of a better division record, Kentucky will be the top seed for the league tournament.
No. 9 Kansas 75, Missouri 59
Drew Gooden scored 19 points and sparked a 21-7 second-half run to lead the Jayhawks (23-5, 12-4 Big 12), who won on Senior Day for the 18th consecutive season.
Kareem Rush, the Big 12's leading scorer, returned after a seven-game absence because of a thumb injury and was just 1-of-7 for a season-low two points. Clarence Gilbert led Missouri (18-11, 9-7) with 19 points.
No. 17 Syracuse 93, St. John's 91, 2OT
Senior point guard Allen Griffin scored 17 of his career-high 31 points in the two overtimes and the Orangemen (22-7, 10-6) went 20-for-22 from the free-throw line in the two extra periods.
Freshman Willie Shaw had 25 points to lead the Red Storm (14-14, 8-8), who have lost three straight, five of six and eight of 11 and had their 15-game winning streak against Big East opponents at Madison Square Garden snapped.
No. 18 Georgetown 79, No. 19 Notre Dame 72
Mike Sweetney scored 19 points and Ruben Boumtje Boumtje added 16 as the visiting Hoyas (23-6, 10-6) clinched a first-round bye for this week's Big East tournament.
Troy Murphy had 19 points for Notre Dame (19-8, 11-5), which was trying to win 20 games in the regular season for the first time in 12 years.
No. 22 Wake Forest 76, N. Carolina St. 58
Darius Songaila scored 21 points and Robert O'Kelley had 15 to lead the visiting Demon Deacons (19-9, 8-8), who finished .500 in the ACC for the first time in four seasons.
Cliff Crawford had 18 points for the Wolfpack (13-15, 5-11), who have lost four of five.
Dayton 65, Xavier 62
Yuanta Holland scored half of his 16 points in a closing 15-4 run for the Flyers (18-11, 9-7 Atlantic 10).
David West had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Musketeers (21-6, 12-4), who have lost six in a row at Dayton Arena and are 5-25 overall against the Flyers on their home court. The loss knocked Xavier out of the poll from 25th.
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.