Two and a half hours before the game, the Duke students were slathering themselves with blue paint in the bitter evening chill. It was clear at that point, before a single fan entered the building, that this was going to be a different kind of atmosphere.
It turned out to be a typical kind of atmosphere -- at least for a game against North Carolina. For this one night, Cameron Indoor Stadium had the kind of feverish, intimidating vibe that used to be uniquely Duke years ago, before nearly every student section across the country had a clever nickname and a cheer sheet.
The arrival of fourth-ranked Ohio State occasioned the kind of anticipation that hadn't been seen on the Duke campus since sixth-ranked Michigan State visited for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in December 2010, and it the produced the same kind of ear-splitting, UNC-caliber volume in Cameron, right to the end of the 73-68 win.
"That helped our guys, to hear all the excitement throughout the day," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I really thought that when our fans left today, they said, 'We won.' That's when Cameron's great. Not that the kids won, but we won. In my years here, when we're able to do that, there's nothing like it. This was one of those times."
It was loud before the game, loud when Duke got off to a good start (before falling behind by eight at the half) and positively deafening when Ryan Kelly hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
Which led Krzyzewski to raise the question, why can't it be like this every game? Why does it take an Ohio State or North Carolina to generate that kind of excitement? Why not when Delaware visits Saturday? That question -- how to create this kind of atmosphere on a more frequent basis -- has been asked a few times in the past few years.
"If you went to a club and it was really good, wouldn't you want that club to be that way again? No matter who we're playing?" Krzyzewski said. "Well, maybe that should be something to do. Like, Saturday would be a heck of a thing for everybody to come to the club again. Club Cameron."