Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - North Carolina won't be unranked for long, not after its statement-making closeout performance against Duke on Thursday.
Leslie McDonald scored 21 points and the Tar Heels used a late run to take down the fifth-ranked Blue Devils 74-66 in another tight Tobacco Road battle.
The bitter rivals came in playing arguably their best ball of the season, as the Tar Heels were riding a seven-game winning streak and Duke had only lost to top-ranked Syracuse in the 10 games prior.
The Blue Devils appeared in control when they led by 11 early in the second half, but a stretch of nearly nine minutes without a field goal paved the way for a Tar Heels comeback.
UNC (19-7, 9-4 ACC) closed it out with an 18-6 flurry, and the Dean Dome student section emptied to celebrate an unranked Tar Heels team beating a ranked Duke team for the first time since March 9, 2003.
"I loved our guys' composure down the stretch," head coach Roy Williams said. "I couldn't be any prouder of my team than I am right now."
James Michael McAdoo finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Marcus Paige chipped in with 13 points for the victors.
Jabari Parker totaled 17 points and 11 boards for Duke (21-6, 10-4), which also got 17 points from Quinn Cook and 16 from Rodney Hood.
Playing their third game in six days, the Blue Devils certainly appeared to lose their legs in the middle stages of the second half, as they missed 13 consecutive shots before Cook banked in a running layup high off the backboard with 6 1/2 minutes to play.
"We didn't have the life that we needed to have," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said before giving the Tar Heels come credit. "They deserved to win the way they played in the second half."
Thanks to Duke's drought, UNC pulled close and completed the turnaround with a string of eight consecutive points late in the contest, the last two coming on a Paige 18-footer with just over two minutes remaining.
The tough step-back jumper gave the hosts a 64-60 advantage, and after Parker sank two free throws, Paige drove right and got an equally-difficult lefty layup to fall.
Duke's Rasheed Sulaimon missed an NBA-range 3-point try with a minute to play, and UNC finished off Duke at the free throw line.
The Tar Heels got to the line 31 times and made 20, while Duke was just 7- of-12 from the stripe.
Both teams showed early jitters as Duke made only one field goal before to the first TV timeout and North Carolina missed six consecutive free throw attempts at one point.
In the latter stages of the opening half, Duke went ahead during a 9-2 surge, which Parker ended with a steal and jumper to give the visitors a 27-22 lead. The Blue Devils took a 37-30 cushion into the break and went up by 11, 51-40, when Parker scored inside with just over 15 minutes to play.