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Duke Now is your place for Blue Devil hoops and football. Beat writer Laura Keeley has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @laurakeeley or @accnow.

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Duke beats UNC 33-30 to clinch first bowl birth since 1994

 

Jamison Crowder pulls in the go-ahead touchdown with :13 seconds remaining. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

By Andrew Carter

DURHAM — Kenny Anunike emerged amid a throng of celebrating Duke students and players on Saturday night and the sound of a ringing bell announced his presence. 
“We're going bowling, baby,” Anunike, the Duke defensive end, said after his team’s dramatic 33-30 victory against North Carolina here on Saturday night at Wallace Wade Stadium. 
Anunike said it again: “We're going bowling, baby.”
 
It has been a long time since any Duke player could say the same. But the Blue Devils’ victory, which snapped their eight-game losing streak against the Tar Heels, is their sixth of the season and makes them bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. 
 
The victory came in the most dramatic of fashion, with Duke quarterback Sean Renfree completing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder with 13 seconds to play. The touchdown, which came on fourth down, capped a 14-play, 87-yard drive that began after UNC took the lead on a bizarre sequence. 

Duke leads UNC 20-6 at the half

 

DURHAM—Duke went into the tunnel at halftime with a 20-6 lead over North Carolina. And that lead came courtesy of a suddenly potent rushing attack.

The Tar Heels entered the game with the nation’s 14-ranked run defense, but Duke put up 119 yards on 38 carries in the first half. That figure is higher than the Blue Devils 111.1 average rushing yards over the course of a full game.

Juwan Thompson leads Duke with 46 rushing yards on nine attempts, followed by Jela Duncan (42) and Josh Snead (39).

Live from Durham: Duke vs. UNC

 

The Blue Devils are hopefull that fans will come out for the earliest meeting between Duke and UNC since 1943. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

DURHAM—It's a beautiful mid-October night for football in Durham, as Duke and UNC will kick off for the 99th time in about an hour and a half's time. In case you missed any of these this week, a bit of pregame reading:

Game preview: Duke vs. UNC

Tags: Duke Now

 

Jamison Crowder and the rest of the Duke offense will need to play like they did in the first quarter against Virginia Tech. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

Duke vs. UNC

What: The victory bell

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham

Line: UNC by 10.5

TV/radio: ESPNU/102.9 FM

What they're saying nationally about Duke: 

ESPN's Heather Dinich: At the midpoint of the season, there’s no question Duke coach David Cutcliffe should be the leading candidate for ACC Coach of the Year. You could make an argument for several coaches in the league, but none of them have had to overcome as many deficiencies in talent, facilities and tradition as Cutcliffe has over the past four years. 

ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit on Duke: "Somewhere in there, there has got to be a sixth win"

 

Conner Vernon is the real deal, ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said. Credit: CHRIS SEWARD

Earlier this week, I caught up with ESPN Gameday host Kirk Kerbstreit and asked for his thoughts on Duke's season so far, the upcoming game against UNC, and, of course, whether he ultimately thinks the Blue Devils will earn a bowl bid. Check out the Q-and-A below: 

When you look at Duke sitting at 5-2, what are your initial thoughts?

Kirk Herbstreit: My initial thoughts are it’s great to see them being able to get things done and try and get bowl eligible. I thought last week after Duke had that big lead on Virginia Tech, boy, this would be a huge win for them, and they clearly weren’t able to hold onto it there in the second half. I’m impressed I love Coach Cut, I love what he’s trying to do, and it’s exciting to be able to see them get some momentum created in the program.

What do you think about their chances to get win No. 6?

Duke football injury report vs. UNC

 

Brandon Connette, who injured his shoulder last week, could play against UNC. Credit: CHRIS SEWARD

DURHAM—With each passing week, the Duke injury report becomes less newsworthy. For a team besieged by injuries at the beginning of the year, that's a positive development.

The 7 p.m. start time for the game against UNC gives the Blue Devils a bit more time than normal to ready people to play. 

"Upper extremity, lower extremity, everything has a chance to heal," Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. "I'm not ruling anybody new out.

Duke quarterback Sean Renfree named a finalist for senior CLASS award

 

Duke quarterback Sean Renfree will leave as one of the most prolific passers in school history. Credit: CHRIS SEWARD

Duke quarterback Sean Renfree has been selected as one of the 10 finalist for the Senior CLASS award, which considers excellence in the community, classroom, character and competition, the school announced in a release Thursday.

Off the field, Renfree has already earned his undergraduate degree from Duke in public policy and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in humanities. He boasts a 3.814 grade point average in his graduate program, is a two-time member of the All-ACC Academic Football Team and a four-time selection to the ACC Academic Honor Roll. He volunteers with several organizations, including the Duke Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Read with the Blue Devils and the Durham Rescue Mission. Earlier this season, he was one of 11 players selected to the AFCA Good Works Team.

Mike Krzyzewski on Lance Thomas, transfers and compliance in general

 

When asked about the Lance Thomas situation, Mike Krzyzewski said he doesn't know what happened. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

CHARLOTTE—Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski told the media Wednesday that he doesn’t know the circumstances surrounding Lance Thomas’s December 2009 jewelry purchase.

“No, I don’t know what happened,” Krzyzewski said. “In Lance’s situation, when we heard the rumor of his lawsuit, we contacted our administration in early September. And they then contacted the NCAA. And what they’re doing is looking into it. There’s no investigation, they’re looking into it. We have to make sure that we honor the integrity of that process in moving along. That’s what I’ve tried to do, and that’s really about all I can say about it. That’s just the way it works.”

Thomas purchased $97,800 worth of custom jewelry on Dec. 21, 2009, midway through his senior year. He made a $30,000 down payment and signed a purchase agreement to pay the balance within 15 days. Thomas defaulted on his payment. Raefello & Co. filed a lawsuit in January after repeated attempts to collect payment. The lawsuit was made public in September, and both parties had reached a settlement later that month.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the Duke has kept the league office informed.

My 2012-13 preseason ACC ballot

Mike Krzyzewski isn't a fan of voting in preseason polls. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

CHARLOTTE—Media members met in Charlotte today for the 50th annual ACC Operation Basketball, and part of the festivities included making a few predictions. For the first time since 1975, NC State was picked to win the league, and Duke finished a a relatively close second. That's exactly how I voted as well. Speaking of my ballot, here it is:

N.C. State picked to win ACC ahead of Duke and UNC

CHARLOTTE — For the first time since 1975, media members covering the ACC have picked N.C. State to win the conference. The league on Wednesday released the results of its annual preseason media poll, in which the Wolfpack received 26 of 53 first-place votes.

Duke, which received 21 first-place votes, finished second in the poll. North Carolina finished third and Florida State, which received six first-place votes, came in fourth.