I feel like this game would be best introduced by Stefon from Saturday Night Live:
¡°This game had everything: Dunks, Buzzer Beaters, RASHEED WALLACE…¡±
For all the games that UNC and Duke have played against one another, all the #1 vs. #2 matchups, all the ACC Tournament titles, the massive upsets, the classic finishes, there has never been a better game between them than the one played on February 2nd, 1995 in Durham. This fact becomes that much more incredible when you consider the caliber of the two teams that played that night.
UNC in 1995 was one of the best teams in the nation. Led by Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace, the Tar Heels would tie for the ACC Regular Season title, make the ACC Tournament final, and reach the Final Four. Their starting five, rounded out by Donald Williams, Jeff McInnis, and Dante Calabria, was the best in the nation and, if it weren¡¯t for a serious lack of bench, they¡¯d have likely won it all. They were a high-octane, emotional, entertaining team and came into Durham 16-1 and ranked #2.
Duke, on the other hand, was a wasteland. Coach K had taken a leave of absence due to back surgery, leaving Pete Gaudet in command. However, even K couldn¡¯t have saved this team: The Blue Devils had a dearth of talent and were led by Cherokee Parks, Jeff Capel, Ricky Price, Eric Meek, and Trajan Langdon. They were in the midst of a 13-18 season and entered the game 0-7 in the ACC. This was not expected to be a game, much less a classic.
The game started out much as everyone expected: UNC blitzed out of the gate, courtesy of sharpshooting from Donald Williams and an onslaught of dunks from Wallace, who let out his signature scream after every one. UNC hit their first nine shots to build a 26-9 lead over the outmatched Blue Devils by the under-12 timeout. The last of those shots you might¡¯ve seen before…
But Stackhouse¡¯s iconic dunk marked the end of Carolina¡¯s opening onslaught: They scored only twice on their next fifteen possessions and Duke managed to crawl back into the game. Timely shooting from Parks and a second foul on Rasheed gave Duke a shot in the arm and by halftime it was 34-29 UNC. Tough defense from the Blue Devils got UNC out of their rhythm and we were set for a classic second half.
In the second half, the Blue Devils went supernova. A team that just couldn¡¯t put it together throughout the year suddenly caught fire all at once, including the embattled Chris Collins, who was having a historically awful season shooting the ball. Collins, Parks, and particularly the freshman Trajan Langdon began nailing threes, sending Duke surging into the lead and nearly blowing the roof off of Cameron. Wallace, who had humiliated the Duke bigs in the first half, picked up an early third foul and was on the bench for much of the run. Without him, UNC could barely hang on.
With 9:58 remaining in the game, Ricky Price hit a fastbreak layup to make it 68-56 Duke, an absurd 29-point swing following UNC¡¯s early blitz. With the Cameron Crazies caught somewhere between euphoria and disbelief and Duke nailing everything they threw at the hoop, it was easy to see this game slipping away. Then Wallace slammed home the ultimate STFU putback slam over Parks, Meek, and Price to silence the crowd.
Turn to 1:04 for the dunk. Or, better yet, watch all 8 dunks.