Austin Rivers (US Presswire)
Austin Rivers (US Presswire)
Austin Rivers added to the legacy of the endlessly entertaining North Carolina-Duke rivalry Wednesday night by capping the Blue Devils' frantic comeback with a game-winning three as time expired. Here's a look at how I'd rank the Rivers-led 85-84 Duke win among past great Blue Devils victories over North Carolina:
1. Duke 66, North Carolina 65 OT (1981): Before the final regular-season game of his career at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke's Gene Banks donned a tuxedo and threw roses to the crowd. Banks then delivered a performance worthy of the theatrics, sending the game to overtime with a buzzer-beating jumper and winning it for Duke by banking in a follow shot with 19 seconds to go in the extra session. The senior finished with 25 points, just enough to get first-year coach Mike Krzyzewski his first victory in the series.
2. Duke 77, North Carolina 75 (1984): North Carolina had beaten Duke eight of the first nine times they played in Mike Krzyzewski's tenure, including a double overtime win earlier in the 1983-84 season, but the Blue Devils finally broke through in the ACC semifinals. Behind sophomore Mark Alarie's 21 points, Duke defeated a top-ranked North Carolina team that featured Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins, serving notice that the rivalry would no longer be one-sided going forward. The Tar Heels' comeback bid ended when Matt Doherty, hero of the previous double-overtime game, threw an inbound pass out of bounds in the final seconds.
3. Duke 87, North Carolina 86 3OT (1968): Duke and North Carolina were both top 10 teams with nationally renowned players, but the guy who upstaged everybody on this day was a little-known forward who had previously scored only 12 points the entire season. Fred Lind got into the game as a result of starter Mike Lewis' foul trouble and made an unexpected impact, forcing overtime with a pair of foul shots at the end of regulation and knocking down an 18-footer with seven seconds left to force the second overtime. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, a performance that led Duke students to carry him on their shoulders outside the locker room after the game.
4. Duke 85, North Carolina 84 (2012): Freshman Austin Rivers made North Carolina pay for its inability to put underdog Duke away in the second half. In his first game against the Tar Heels, Rivers sank a high-arcing right-wing three as time expired over 7-footer Tyler Zeller to complete a comeback from a 10-point deficit with just over two minutes remaining. Tyler Thornton, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly also sank key shots to enable the comeback, but it was Rivers' 29 points capped with the crowd-silencing game winner that will be the indelible image.
5. Duke 77, North Carolina 75 (1998): For nearly 30 minutes, Duke looked powerless to stop Antawn Jamison in the paint or Shammond Williams on the perimeter. Then the Blue Devils staged a furious rally from a 17-point deficit with 11:39 remaining, culminating in senior forward Roshown McLeod's tie-breaking basket with a minute to go. Duke's 77-75 victory reaffirmed its No. 1 ranking, clinched the ACC championship by two games over second-place North Carolina and sparked a stretch of 16 Blue Devils victories in the next 20 games against the Tar Heels.
6. Duke 71, North Carolina 70 (2005): Facing a loaded North Carolina team that would go on to win the ACC title and a national championship that spring, Duke slowed down the tempo and shackled the Tar Heels' vaunted transition game. North Carolina still had a chance to win on its final possession, but the Blue Devils recognized the Tar Heels plan to run the same play they had used to beat UConn earlier in the season. J.J. Redick denied a pass to Rashad McCants on the left wing and two other Blue Devils trapped Raymond Felton, leaving a well-guarded David Noel to dribble the ball out of bounds as time expired.
7. Duke 83, North Carolina 81 (2004): In one of the most frantic finishes in the history of the rivalry, Chris Duhon helped top-ranked Duke win for the fifth time in six years on North Carolina's home floor. After Rashad McCants tied the game with a three with 13 seconds remaining, Duhon drove the length of the floor and scored on a reverse layup to give Duke the lead back. Melvin Scott missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, preserving the victory for the Blue Devils.
8. Duke 47, North Carolina 40 (1979): In one of the more bizarre games of the rivalry, North Carolina coach Dean Smith's plan to hold the ball for the entire first half backfired as Duke took a 7-0 lead into halftime. The Blue Devils made that lead stand up in the second half, winning 47-40 to share the ACC regular-season title with the Tar Heels. In his postgame news conference, Duke coach Bill Foster took a memorable jab at North Carolina's tactics. Said Foster, "I always thought Naismith invented basketball, not Dean Smith."
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