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Sunday, March 10, 2013
Pickeral: Duke at top of its game vs. UNC

By Robbi Pickeral

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Less than 10 feet from the bucket and falling backward in Saturday's first half, Duke guard Seth Curry swirled through an unmakeable-looking basket that, he insisted with a grin, "I knew was going in the whole time."

It was that kind of game for Curry, who made his first seven shots and set the tone for the third-ranked Blue Devils' 69-53 blowout over rival North Carolina.

It was that kind of game for Duke (27-4, 14-4 ACC), which might have finished second in the ACC regular-season standings -- but is looking more and more like the top team in the nation again, thanks to the return of forward Ryan Kelly, the inside play of senior Mason Plumlee and the dynamic scoring of Curry.

"We're re-energized,'' said Curry, who finished 8-for-13 with two assists and three rebounds. "We're having fun with our whole team back out there. … And when we're on our A-game, we feel like we're one of the best teams in the country."

The Devils have systematically been returning to their A-game now that Kelly's back, after missing 13 games because of an injured foot. The senior -- who had averaged 27 points in the two games since his return last weekend -- was only 2-for-4 with eight points this time around. But the team, and his teammates, are looking more and more comfortable with the 6-foot-10 defense-stretcher back in the starting five.

For Robbi Pickeral's full column, click here.