North Carolina salvaged its up-and-down season and three-year slump against arch-rival Duke by beating the 10th-ranked Blue Devils, 82-79, Sunday at Chapel Hill, N.C., in a wild ending to the regular season.
The Tar Heels went a program-worst 8-20 last season and lost to the Blue Devils by 29 points at home before rebounding this season with a 16-14 record.
Rashad McCants scored 26 points as the Tar Heels ended a six-game losing streak against Duke, which is 21-6 overall and 11-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, its streak of 12-win conference seasons ending at six.
A 30-foot basket by Dahntay Jones that would have tied the score came just after the buzzer sounded. Jones led Duke with 22 points.
There were 21 lead changes before baskets by McCants and Raymond Felton gave the Tar Heels (16-14, 6-10) a 68-64 lead with 7:03 left.
The Blue Devils then went to a zone to slow down North Carolina's offense and tied it at 72-72 with 2:23 left. McCants made a three-pointer and Jackie Manuel added a driving layup for a five-point lead.
North Carolina clinched the win at the free-throw line, making five of six over the final 24 seconds. Felton and David Noel, a 38% foul shooter, each made two while the Tar Heels clung to a two-point lead.
With 8:17 left, Felton was bloodied when he took an elbow on a follow shot by Jones.
He was being helped to his feet by Tar Heel Coach Matt Doherty near the Duke bench when Blue Devil assistant coach Chris Collins began to argue with Doherty.
Duke senior reserve guard Andre Buckner then came out of the huddle and pushed Doherty with two hands to the chest. Doherty went back at Buckner and both teams began pushing and shoving as the officials restored order.