Austin Rivers Buzzer Beater Helps Duke Stun North Carolina at Home
"I don't think it's much of a rivalry right now because UNC's not better than Duke, nowhere near in my opinion. Until UNC can start winning some games, I don't think it's much of a rivalry. They've got to do something first. Duke's done their share. I don't know about UNC."
It definitely takes a lot of guts to say something like that. Even if you are just giving a good natured ribbing to a fierce rival. But, those words came out of Austin Rivers mouth almost one year ago, when he was still one of the top high school players in the nation. Last night, in the first game of what has been deemed as the biggest rivalry in college basketball, Rivers had a performance and a shot that went down as another incredible chapter of the Tobacco Road rivalry of Duke and North Carolina.
In front of an amped up home crowd at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, Austin Rivers dagger three pointer as time expired is sure to go down as one of the marquee moments in this classic rivalry. North Carolina led the entire second half, even leading by 7 with under 2 minutes remaining. However, a Seth Curry triple and a couple of Ryan Kelly jumpers helped cut the lead to two points with under 13 seconds remaining. The ball was placed in the hands of Rivers, who calmly dribbled down the clock and fired a seering triple over the helpless reach of Tyler Zeller to give Duke an 85-84 victory.
Rivers spoke to Erin Andrews after the game, saying that it was not the best game of his life, but the best day of life. If he is talking about his college basketball career, it was definitely both on this gigantic stage against a fierce rival. The son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who was in the crowd to cheer him on, Austin has had his ups and downs as a freshman. With this game, he went beyond the great expectations placed upon him, scoring 29 points while shooting 6-10 from long range. Nicknamed "Sub-zero" due to his scoring acumen and jersey number, there is little as cold as icing your opponent as time expires.
North Carolina definitely seemed to have the game in hand, but Tyler Zeller will definitely be seen as a Chapel Hill villain despite a 23 and 11 performance. Zeller dominated the first half, but made some crucial mistakes down the stretch. The big man split 1 of 2 FT's and also accidentally tipped in a wayward three point heave by Ryan Kelly to cut the lead to one. After splitting another pair at the stripe, he was switched on to Rivers and gave him enough space to hit that shot that should make the All-Time Highlight reel of the Duke/UNC match-up.
Harrison Barnes also had 25 points, but he scored North Carolina's only FG with 2:35 remaining in the game. In other words, Barnes definitely played his part, but North Carolina got to comfortable with an 82-72 lead on his last jumper. John Henson finished with 12 points and 17 rebounds, as the Heels thoroughly outrebounded the Blue Devils, but perimeter defense was North Carolina's downfall. Kendall Marshall finished with 14 points and 8 assists as well, though Seth Curry shined in front of his famous father (and lately, famous mother) with 15 points of his own. The day truly belonged to Austin Rivers, who backed up some bold words from a year ago to stun the Tar Heel faithful.