As the Duke basketball season entered its final stretch, it became increasingly clear that the ACC wasn’t going to make the playoffs, or even the ACC tournament.
The Tar Heels had already lost four of their first five games, including a heartbreaking overtime loss to Kentucky.
The Tar Heel players were so distraught by the loss that they refused to leave the team hotel until their coach was replaced.
Duke lost a heartbreaking loss to Duke on March 16th, but they still ended up winning the ACC Tournament for the second straight year.
The Duke loss was the worst one of the season.
It also marked the first time Duke had ever been eliminated from a tournament in their first two seasons of existence.
The following week, Duke’s players were back in Durham to play Kentucky in a nationally televised game that featured a first-round matchup between Duke and Duke’s first-ever Final Four team.
This was the first game between the two teams since the 1998-99 season.
The game was marred by foul trouble, and a Duke player went down during the third quarter.
Duke won the game 94-80, but this was the second time in three years that the Tar Heeds had lost a close game to Duke.
Duke finished the season at 6-10.
After losing three straight games, Duke went into the ACC All-Star break without a win.
In the first half, Duke led 54-46.
Duke was up by 11 points at halftime, but the Tar Sheels finally got to the free throw line and Duke missed two.
With 4:08 remaining, the Tar Devils made their first four free throws, but Duke missed three.
Duke missed four more shots before the game was called.
Afterward, the Duke players and coaches told reporters that they were so frustrated with their team that they had no energy left to play.
Duke players also said that the entire team was so tired, they couldn’t even walk on the court.
The season did not end with the Duke loss.
On January 21st, Duke played in the ACC Championship Game against North Carolina.
The game was the culmination of Duke’s incredible season and a national championship for the program.
Duke scored 41 points in the first quarter, and the TarHeels were up 69-67 at halftime.
But the TarSheels were able to get within 61-58 at halftime after the Duke player made a three-pointer.
Duke went on to win 76-65.
The year did not finish with the Tarheels loss.
After winning their second consecutive national championship, Duke lost their first-year head coach and the first two players on the team to injury.
Duke had to fire its entire coaching staff.
The entire Duke basketball team was in a state of shock.
They had just won the national championship and had a great coach.
The team had lost two straight games to Duke and were already in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Duke would be able to play in the NCAA tournament for the first and only time in their history, but it would be their last game as a member of the ACC.
In the end, Duke did not make the NCAA playoffs, and it did not qualify for the NCAA Final Four.
But Duke was able to salvage its season with a win over Georgia State on February 7th, 2002, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Duke played Georgia State for the final time on February 13th, and Duke was defeated 79-65 in overtime.
This would be the last time Duke played any other team in the tournament.