NEW YORK — Duke senior Grayson Allen tripped an opponent with his posterior, and North Carolina advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final.
No. 12 UNC (25-9) defeated Duke, 74-69, and will play No. 1 Virginia (30-2) on Saturday night for the conference tournament title. No. 5 Duke (26-7) is expected to receive a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, which begins next week, while the defending champion Tar Heels are likely to be a No. 3.
Back to Allen, one of college sports’ most enduring heels. As North Carolina blitzed up the court late in the first half, Allen leaned his backside into North Carolina’s Garrison Brooks, causing him to fall. Allen has a history of tripping opponents, and this time he deployed a hockey move. His reputation was intact.
While allowing that Allen is “a great player,” Brooks said after the game that Allen had deliberately tripped him. “That’s what he does,” Brooks said.
“That didn’t surprise me,” he added. “Once you’ve seen it before.”
Asked whether it was possible that the trip had been accidental, Brooks said: “What did you see? You saw him stick his hip into me.”
After reviewing the play, the referees called over Duke’s and North Carolina’s coaches, Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams, to announce their decision. Krzyzewski stepped back first, his placid features betraying simmering rage. The call was a Flagrant 1 foul, indicating excessive contact. Allen and UNC’s Joel Berry II appeared to laugh about it as Brooks hit both free throws to put the Tar Heels up, 34-27.
Krzyzewski was hardly amused. He shouted at the refs after the halftime buzzer sounded.
After halftime, UNC looked likely to build on a one-point lead. Luke Maye, a fan favorite since he made a shot to defeat Kentucky in last year’s NCAA tournament, had six points and an assist in the first five minutes, helping establish a nine-point lead.
Duke fell behind by 15 points late in the second half but rallied to make it close.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.