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Duke had no business beating North Carolina, but they won anyway

No. 20 Duke walked out of the Dean Dome with a 74-73 win over arch-rival North Carolina Wednesday night, and no one is quite sure how it happened.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Duke has won four straight and 11 of the last 14 against arch-rival North Carolina, but perhaps none of those victories has been as surprising, nor as puzzling, as the one Wednesday night.

After seeming to be in control of things for the bulk of the evening, fifth-ranked UNC allowed the Blue Devils to outscore them 14-5 down the stretch and head back to Durham with a stunning 74-73 victory.

Grayson Allen, who scored a team-high 23 points, set the game's final score with a pair of free-throws at the 1:09 mark. After missed shots by North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks on one end and Allen on the other, the Tar Heels had one final chance to win the game, but Joel Berry's jumper was blocked by Derryck Thornton.

A number of North Carolina fans on social media were immediately critical of head coach Roy Williams' decision not to call timeout on the final possession, a decision Williams himself said after the game that he regrets.

In addition to continuing its recent dominance in the rivalry, Wednesday night's win marks Duke's third consecutive victory over a top-20 opponent. After falling out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 2007, the defending national champs have suddenly reinserted themselves into the title discussion by reeling off victories over Louisville, Virginia and UNC.

For North Carolina, the reaction remains one of shock and confusion. Shock and confusion over how the Tar Heels could find a way to lose a home game in which they had 12 more rebounds than their opponent, 10 more assists than their opponent, and shot a better percentage from the field than their opponent. Losing on a night when star Brice Johnson scored 29 points and snagged 19 rebounds didn't make the pill any easier to swallow either.

North Carolina will attempt to avoid losing five straight in the series when it heads to Cameron Indoor on March 5.