Durham, NC (Sports Network) - In the latest prank of the bitter Tobacco Road rivalry between Duke and North Carolina, a couple of Tar Heel fans stole the head of the Blue Devils' mascot prior to the game and placed it on a spike above a bookstore on the Chapel Hill campus.
The Blue Devils, though, had the last laugh as it was the Tar Heels who lost their heads in the second half, especially from the foul line.
And Duke gave head coach Mike Krzyzewski a fine 66th birthday present.
Mason Plumlee battled foul trouble and posted 18 points and 11 rebounds in No. 2 Duke's 73-68 win over North Carolina.
"I just thought both teams played the way Duke and North Carolina teams play. They play so hard, and we did too," Krzyzewski said.
UNC led wire-to-wire in the opening 20 minutes and Duke didn't take its first lead until 14:11 was left in the game.
Quinn Cook added 18 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Blue Devils (22-2, 9-2 ACC), who have won six straight contests.
Plumlee was whistled for his fourth foul with 6:40 left in the game, but managed to go the rest of the way without fouling out.
P.J. Hairston tallied 23 points and eight rebounds to lead UNC (16-8, 6-5), which has dropped back-to-back tilts.
"Well I was extremely disappointed to say the least, but I am not disappointed in the effort of our team," said North Carolina head coach Roy Williams.
The Tar Heels went just 9-of-17 from the charity stripe over the final 20 minutes.
James Michael McAdoo's dunk gave UNC a 38-31 second-half lead before Duke countered with an 11-3 run. Tyler Thornton hit a 3-pointer before Seth Curry capped the burst with a triple for a 42-41 Blue Devils edge and their first lead.
After Hairston made a pair of foul shots to put the Tar Heels back on top, an 8-2 Duke spurt put the Blue Devils on top for good.
Rasheed Sulaimon and Thornton triples, sandwiched around a Dexter Strickland jumper, gave the hosts a 50-45 advantage with 12:25 to go.
Later, the Tar Heels missed six straight from the foul line before Strickland sunk two to pull UNC within 65-61 with 1:15 remaining.
The Tar Heels clamped down on defense and forced a tough Thornton trey, which was way off the mark, but the Heels' Reggie Bullock was called for a foul on the rebound and Sulaimon made both free throws.
Duke then sunk all six of its free-throw attempts down the stretch to seal the win.
An 11-4 UNC push in the first half vaulted the Heels to a 28-18 margin before they took a 33-29 cushion into the break.
The Blue Devils have won 13 straight home games since an 88-70 defeat to UNC in last year's regular-season finale ... Duke has won six of their last eight meetings against UNC.