North Carolina dived head-first back into its rivalry with Duke yesterday.

The Tar Heels salvaged their up-and-down season and three-year slump against their arch rival by beating the 10th-ranked Blue Devils, 82-79, in a wild ending to the regular season in Chapel Hill. N.C.

"We've been taking punches to the face all year and we've come off the mat each time," said North Carolina Coach Matt Doherty, who was involved in a shouting-shoving incident in the game. "We came off the mat today and played a great game against a great opponent. What a gutsy effort. To me it was one of those classic Carolina-Duke games."

The Tar Heels (16-14, 6-10 ACC) went a program-worst 8-20 last year and lost to the Blue Devils by 29 at home before rebounding this season.

Rashad McCants scored 26 points and Raymond Felton added 18 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists as the Tar Heels snapped a six-game losing skid to Duke (21-6, 11-5), which saw its streak of 12-win ACC seasons end at six straight.

A 30-footer by Dahntay Jones, who led Duke (21-6, 11-5) with 22 points, that would have tied the game came just after the buzzer sounded. The officials watched TV replays to confirm the late shot as fans stormed the floor at the Smith Center.

* PITTSBURGH 56, VILLANOVA 54: Suspension-strapped Villanova had just seven players in uniform and still gave the No. 7 Panthers a fight before losing in Philadelphia.

It helped that Pittsburgh's Brandin Knight missed his last five free throw attempts. The Wildcats (15-14, 8-8 Big East) had 12 players suspended Saturday for allegedly making unauthorized telephone calls. Villanova's penalties were staggered, allowing it to field a team.

Knight had 15 points and Jaron Brown had 14 for Pitt (23-4, 13-3), which enters the Big East tournament on a six-game winning streak.

* KANSAS 79, MISSOURI 74: Aaron Miles and Kirk Hinrich both barely beat the shot clock with long three-pointers in the final 1 minute 20 seconds and the visiting No. 6 Jayhawks wrapped up their second straight Big 12 championship. Hinrich and Nick Collison each had 20 points as Kansas (24-6, 14-2) denied Missouri its first unbeaten home schedule since 1993-94 as the Tigers finished 14-1 at the Hearnes Center.

* GEORGIA 60, SOUTH CAROLINA 55: Jarvis Hayes and Steve Thomas combined for all 10 Georgia points in overtime and the 25th-ranked Bulldogs beat the host Gamecocks. The win was the second in three games for Georgia (19-8, 11-5 Southeastern Conference) since the basketball program was charged by a former player with providing extra benefits and academic improprieties.

"We have to put this behind us," Coach Jim Harrick said. "We are focusing on nothing but basketball."

* SYRACUSE 83, RUTGERS 74: Freshman Carmelo Anthony had 30 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists as the No. 12 Orangemen completed their first unbeaten season at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse (23-4, 13-3 Big East) finished 17-0 at home, its first unbeaten season since the dome opened in 1980. The win also was No. 1,600 for Syracuse, making it the seventh Division I program to attain that milestone.

* ILLINOIS 84, MINNESOTA 60: Brian Cook scored 22 points, six in a decisive 19-4 second-half run, and the No. 14 Illini handed the Golden Gophers their fourth straight loss. The Illini (21-6, 11-5 Big Ten) won their 17th straight home game and beat Minnesota (16-11, 8-8) for the 10th consecutive time.

* MISSOURI VALLEY: Kyle Korver had 19 points and No. 19 Creighton escaped with a one-point win for the second straight day, beating Wichita State, 70-69, in the conference tournament semifinals in St. Louis. The Bluejays (28-4) beat Indiana State, 57-56, on Saturday.

Jackie Manuel is fouled by Duke's Shelden Williams in North Carolina's 82-79 victory, first in seven meetings.