As a companion piece to yesterday’s post on UNC’s 102-100, double-overtime victory over Duke in 1995, here are four instances when tensions ran high between the rivals:
Feb. 4, 1961: The moment when the rivalry hit a new level of intensity at what was then called Duke Indoor Stadium. Bad blood already existed between the teams. Duke star Art Heyman had originally committed to attend UNC in 1960, but backed off his word when an argument arose between Tar Heels coach Frank McGuire and Heyman’s stepfather. New Blue Devils coach Vic Bubas quickly swooped in to poach one of the nation’s top recruits. Larry Brown, a childhood foe of Heyman’s from New York, often stated his disregard for Duke’s star. As the final seconds ticked away on Duke’s 81-77 victory on the snowy night of Feb. 4, Brown drove to the basket only to run into Heyman. The Duke big man wrapped up Brown by the shoulders. The small-but-feisty Brown shook loose and then threw the ball at Heyman. UNC’s Donnie Walsh, a future NBA executive, came from behind to hit Heyman. The cauldron of ill will was ignited, and what resulted was one of the worst brawls in college basketball history. Fans, coaches and scrub players all got in on the action. It took 10 minutes and several policemen to cool the situation. Heyman was the only player bounced from the game. Later, Heyman, Brown and Walsh were all suspended for the remaining ACC games. McGuire stepped down as UNC’s coach in the off-season after allegations of recruiting violations surfaced, paving the way for Dean Smith to take the reins of the Tar Heels. Interestingly, Brown was coaching the Pistons in 2004 when Detroit and the Indiana Pacers engaged in one of the worst brawls in NBA history.
March 12, 1989: The ACC tournament championship game at the Omni in Atlanta was one of the more ferociously contested games in the history of the schools. There were 49 fouls whistled in the game, and four players fouled out. Duke’s Danny Ferry suffered a long gash on his cheek. A steady dialogue of woofing was kept up throughout the game, notably between Ferry and UNC’s J.R. Reid. The teams’ respective stars had done their share of verbal sparring in UNC’s 91-71 victory on Jan. 18 that season. In this game, Ferry was the recipient of several hard fouls by Reid and Scott Williams. Tempers flared in the first half when UNC’s Jeff Lebo and Duke’s Robert Brickey battled for a rebound, but the situation was quickly diffused. Things finally came to head in the second half as the teams headed to their benches for a TV timeout. The players bumped into each other, touching off a pushing scrum with UNC’s King Rice and Kevin Madden and Duke’s Quinn Snyder, Phil Henderson and Brickey the main instigators. The dust settled without any major fisticuffs, and UNC pulled out a tough 77-74 victory for the Tar Heels’ first ACC tournament title since 1982.
March 9, 2003: UNC coach Matt Doherty was feeling the pressure about his job security as the Tar Heels were finishing up another disappointing season. UNC also desperately wanted to snap its six-game losing streak to Duke. In the Blue Devils’ 83-74 victory on Feb. 5 that season, Doherty had taken exception to some peacocking by Duke’s Dahntay Jones. Everything bubbled over with more than eight minutes remaining on March 9, when Jones inadvertently drew blood on Raymond Felton with a swipe of his hand. Jones hit a jumper to tie the game at 63-63, and officials called time out with Felton prostrate on the court. Doherty came across the court to check on Felton and talk to the referees. Duke assistant Chris Collins walked onto the court to say something to a referee, and then made some remarks to UNC’s Rashad McCants. Doherty and Collins, both fierce competitors in their playing days, were soon in each other’s faces. Duke benchwarmer Andre Buckner stepped onto the court to shove Doherty. Peace was quickly rendered in a confrontation that easily could have gotten out of hand. UNC went on to win the game, 82-79, to snap its skid against the Blue Devils. It still wouldn’t be enough to save Doherty’s job.March 4, 2007: The video has been dissected by fans like the Zapruder film. Tar Heels star Tyler Hansbrough, with 17.5 seconds remaining and UNC holding an 84-72 lead, grabbed the rebound of his own missed free throw. As Hansbrough gathered himself for the putback, Duke’s high-flying Gerald Henderson swooped in from the opposite side of the basket. Henderson leaped to block the shot, then tucked his arm in at the last moment. Henderson’s elbow landed a direct hit on Hansbrough’s nose, leaving UNC’s star crumpled on the floor. Hansbrough stayed down for a few seconds, then bolted to his feet with a full-on crimson mask. Teammate Dewey Burke held “Psycho T” back as the big man sought blood vengeance. Hansbrough was directed to the locker room, but he kept pausing and looking back to the court like he wanted to get into the ring. The officials huddled while coaches Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski talked calmly. Henderson was ejected, missing the final seconds of UNC’s 86-72 victory. The Duke side pleaded innocence in the aftermath, but Henderson still was slapped with a one-game suspension. It’s hard to determine from the video what Henderson’s intent was, leaving the debate open.