‘They Believed We Didn’t Deserve to Beat Them on Their Home Court’

North Carolina would forever redefine the history of the UNC-Duke rivalry with a 94-81 win in Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium and follow that with an 81-77 victory over the Blue Devils in the Final Four. It was two massive wins over Duke on two of the biggest stages in college basketball.

Even more surprising is that the wins came after the Blue Devils trounced Carolina, 87-67, in Chapel Hill on Feb. 5.

According to graduate transfer Brady Manek, Duke had underestimated UNC prior to the matchup in Durham and then again in New Orleans.

“We got a lot of trash talk,” Manek said in The Tar Heel Show podcast. “I am a firm believer that they believed we did not deserve to beat them on their home court. They thought it was something that just was not supposed to happen because of the way they beat us on our home court.”

Manek admitted that UNC’s self-confidence swung the tide in their favor in the Final Four.

“Us going into that game, we knew how good we were,” Manek said. “They had a strange glimpse of how good we were, but they did not believe it.”

Manek also revealed that both teams were going at each other verbally, heightening the desperation to come out on top.

“We were all definitely going at it,” Manek said. “You run down the floor, and someone is getting in your face or getting in your ear. It all kind of builds that moment and amplifies the game.”

Heading into the Final Four matchup in New Orleans, the two powerhouse programs had built up familiarity with one another through their previous two matchups, but Manek believed every player on both teams had put the rivalry aside before tip-off.

“I do not think anyone on either team looked at that game like, ‘Oh, it’s Duke and Carolina against each other for the first time in the Tournament,'” Manek said. “It was, ‘We are in the Final Four. How do we get to the Championship? Forget about the rivalry.’

In his three games against Duke, Manek averaged 18.3 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 53.8 percent from three-point range (14-of-26). During the Final Four matchup, the Oklahoma transfer notched 14 points, four rebounds, and three blocks and hit a monumental three to give UNC a 73-71 advantage with 1:41 left in the game.

Manek’s penchant for hitting big shots against the Blue Devils was also exhibited in their matchup at Cameron Indoor Stadium. He scored five points and collected two defensive rebounds in the final four minutes to help turn a six-point lead into a 13-point victory.

During his final collegiate season, Manek averaged 15.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game for the Tar Heels. His rebounding average was the second-highest mark on the team and the second-best total of his career. His 40.3 percent led all Tar Heels (min. 10 attempts).

Manek’s 98 three-pointers on the season are second to only Justin Jackson’s 105 (2016-17) in the UNC record book.

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