CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- J.J. Redick praised the defense he faced and gave himself passing marks for his performance. Then he saved his highest praise for Duke's effort against its biggest rival.
"Very few teams playing on the road, in a big game like this, with such a big momentum swing, could have made enough plays to pull out a win," Redick said. "I think we're one of those teams that's capable of doing that."
The guard had 22 of his 35 points in the second half, freshman Josh McRoberts added a season-high 17 points and the second-ranked Blue Devils held off North Carolina 87-83 on Tuesday night.
Playing for the final time in the Dean Smith Center, Redick was 12-for-22 from the field -- including five 3-pointers -- and set a career high with four steals against the Tar Heels (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP). Three of those led to breakaway layups.
"It's very satisfying to win the ballgame," Redick said. "I guess I'm leaving here 2-2 at the Dean Dome, which is not bad. To go out with a win as a senior, it feels good."
His previous best against the Tar Heels was 18 points, but he struggled with his shooting in the previous seven matchups (34 percent). There was no such problem in this one, and Redick saved his best for last.
With Duke (22-1, 10-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) clinging to a one-point lead, Redick calmly swished a 3 over Wes Miller to increase the margin with 1:54 remaining. He later added another with the shot clock winding down to make it a seven-point game.
"You've got to give J.J. credit," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "He made two big-time shots."
It was enough to hold off a furious rally by the Tar Heels (14-6, 5-4) and help the Blue Devils pick up their 16th victory in the past 19 games in this Tobacco Road rivalry. Yet the latest was far from easy.
The Blue Devils opened the second half with 12 straight points to take a 52-35 lead, and North Carolina made it pretty easy with six turnovers in that span. Redick started the run by jumping in the passing lane for a steal that led to a layup, and McRoberts had a big role, too.
He took a beautiful lob pass from Sean Dockery and dunked it over his head, then stepped outside to hit only his second 3-pointer of the season. On the other end, Greg Paulus dived on the floor to complete a steal, and Dockery made it pay off with another 3.
"We knew they were going to make a comeback, I don't even think we let up," McRoberts said.
The early second-half struggle prompted Williams to yank all five players off the court and replace them with Quentin Thomas, Marcus Ginyard, Danny Green, Byron Sanders and Mike Copeland. For Copeland, it was only the second time in the past seven games he has played.
It worked, too. Thomas drove down the lane to break the scoring drought, Sanders added another basket from in close and Thomas swished a jumper from the baseline. North Carolina sent the starters back in, and they continued the aggressive play.
David Noel made two free throws and Hansbrough converted four, helping the Tar Heels complete a 12-0 run to get back in it. They eventually took a five-point lead on a free throw from Thomas before Redick had five quick points to tie it.
"They came back and when we lost the lead, I think we showed the spirit that I've sensed in this team throughout the year," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We just have a good spirit that we're going to win. We kept our poise and hit some big shots."
None more so than Redick's, which surprised none of his teammates.
"We've got J.J. Redick. You know he's going to make big shots," Dockery said.
North Carolina tried a variety of players on Redick, and somewhat predictably, none had too much success keeping him from scoring. Miller, who gave up 5 inches, probably had as much luck as anyone.
"I knew with him I could use my height and elevate over him," Redick said. "But a couple of times as I was going up, he hit the ball, and I held onto it and still hit the shot. I thought he played good defense. He's pesky, he's gritty and he fights."
Reyshawn Terry had 17 points for North Carolina and Tyler Hansbrough added 14.
Dockery finished with 14 points and Shelden Williams scored 13 for the Blue Devils.
"It showed a lot for us," Hansbrough said. "We were down 17, came back, made a big run and got right back in it. It shows what type of team we can be."