Thursday, February 9, 2012
Rivers etches name in Duke-Carolina rivalry
Bob Donnan/US Presswire When the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels get together the unexpected is always a possibility, but Wednesday this rivalry saw something that had never happened before.
Duke Blue Devils guard Austin Rivers shoots a last second shot over North Carolina Tar Heels forward Tyler Zeller to win the game. The Blue Devils defeated the Tar Heels 85-84 at the Dean E. Smith Center.
Austin Rivers scored a career-high 29 points, the most ever by a Duke freshman against North Carolina. Yet it was his career-high six three-pointers including the one over Tyler Zeller as time expired that cemented Rivers’ name into Duke-Carolina history.
The Tar Heels dictated the pace for much of the game, forcing the Blue Devils into quick shots. Thirty-one percent of Duke's field-goal attempts came in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock.
The Blue Devils, however, were able to execute more efficiently late in the shot clock, making five of their seven attempts including Rivers' game-winning three-pointer.
It was a tale of two halves for Zeller as he scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half, but was on the wrong side of key plays that decided the game in the second half.
Zeller accidentally tipped the ball into Duke’s basket on a rebound attempt, which cut the lead to one with :14.2 left.
On the ensuing possession he missed the second half of a one-and-one only to draw the defensive assignment on Rivers for the final basket of the game.
Of course the loss wasn’t soley on Zeller as the Tar Heels led by as many as 13 points in the second half. However over the last 2:34 they did not attempt a field goal, missed two free throws, committed two turnovers and were outscored 13-2.
The final margin was Duke's first lead since :43 seconds remained in the first half.
It was an improbable win for the ages considering how bad Duke’s defense has been coupled with the fire power of North Carolina’s offense this season (leads nation in scoring).
In fact, this was North Carolina's first loss in their last 32 games when scoring more than 80 points.
The loss also snapped Carolina's 31-game home winning streak, which had been the longest in school history.
Meanwhile Duke improves to 13-0 following a loss since 2009-10, the third-best record in Division I according to Elias Sports Bureau.