Mike Dunleavy scored 24 points, Shane Battier added 20 and the Blue Devils took control with a 19-1 run in the first half, going on to rout No. 6 North Carolina 79-53 Sunday in the final of the ACC tournament.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski won his 600th career game and was expected to take Duke (29-4) into the NCAA tournament as the top seed in the East Regional.
Despite the loss, the Tar Heels (25-6) also were hoping for a top seed when the pairings were announced later Sunday, perhaps in the South Regional and a chance for a return trip to the Georgia Dome in a couple of weeks.
North Carolina was held to its fewest points since a 45-44 win over N.C. State on Feb. 12, 1997 - a span of 151 games. The Tar Heels shot just 29 percent (19-of-65) and were lifeless after falling behind 50-30 at halftime.
Duke hit only 38 percent of its shots and didn't have point guard Jason Williams for the final 13 minutes; he went out with an injured left foot. But the Blue Devils worked harder, outrebounding the taller Tar Heels 54-47 and arriving first at nearly every loose ball.
Duke posted the second-largest victory in ACC final history, topped only by North Carolina's 37-point victory over N.C. State in 1968. Krzyzewski even got a chance to take out his ironman starters so they could receive an ovation from the crowd of 40,000.
Duke was leading 23-20 just past the midway point of the first half when Battier ignited the decisive run with a 3-pointer. Nate James followed with another 3-pointer and Williams stole a pass from Ronald Curry, going in for a dunk.
Kris Lang made a free throw, but that was only a temporary respite for North Carolina. Williams, who struggled from the outside all game, scored on a great move to the basket. Battier hit another 3. Williams finished the spurt with another layup, giving Duke a 42-21 lead with 4-1/2 minutes left in the half.
North Carolina, the top seed in the tournament, never got any closer than its 20-point halftime deficit. Joseph Forte followed up a 27-point effort in the semifinals with just 14 points on 4-of-15 shooting. No other Tar Heel reached double figures.
Duke, which shared the regular-season title with North Carolina but was the No. 2 seed, became only the third team to win the ACC tournament three years in a row, joining North Carolina (1967-69) and N.C. State (1954-56).
The Tar Heels are the winningest team in tournament history, reaching the final for the 27th time in the 48-year history of the event. But they were denied a 16th championship by their biggest rival. The schools are only eight miles apart.
The teams split their season series, each winning on the other's court. North Carolina won 85-83 on Feb. 1, but the Blue Devils rebounded on the final Sunday of the regular season for a 95-81 victory.
The Blue Devils have won four straight since losing center Carlos Boozer, who broke a bone in his right foot. He could return for the NCAAs but his teammates have been getting by just fine without him.
Duke got another injury scare when Williams apparently sprained his left ankle going for a rebound. He watched the rest of the game from the bench, his foot resting on a chair covered by a bag of ice, a big smile on his face.
The Tar Heels were beat up, too.
Lang, who injured a muscle in his right leg in the semifinals, managed only seven points and one rebound. Point guard Ronald Curry, playing with a heavily taped left wrist, had six points and three assists.From staff and wire reports