Today marks the one-year anniversary of arguably the most exciting conclusion to a Duke-North Carolina basketball game in the history of the storied rivalry.
In case you don’t remember the game’s dramatic conclusion, here is the final scene from “The Miracle on Franklin Street”:
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Austin Rivers had already played the game of his life on the season’s biggest stage. But the Blue Devils still trailed by two, and the 6-foot-4 freshman stood dribbling on the right wing, guarded by 7-foot senior Tyler Zeller.
Looking first at the clock, then the imposing body in front of him, Rivers subtly jabbed, creating all the space he needed to swish a 3-pointer and give Duke an 85-84 victory over North Carolina at the Dean E. Smith Center.
Although the play was designed for Rivers to attack the lane and attempt to draw a foul, the guard came off Mason Plumlee’s pick and exploited his quickness advantage against Zeller, who could not reach his attempt.
“The team, they had a lot of confidence in me,” Rivers said. “Once Zeller switched I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got Zeller on me.’ I just looked up and saw the time, did my little jab and shot it.”
Of course there was much more to it—involving a number of key 3-pointers and some help from Tyler Zeller, tipping in a Ryan Kelly shot, but the remarkable comeback was the first time a Duke-UNC game ended on a buzzer-beater.
But many people forget, Duke led for almost the entire first half before Duke pulled away, in a game that showed the contrasting styles between the two teams:
Although Austin Rivers’ buzzer beater instantly became a part of Duke-North Carolina lore Wednesday night, the real fiber of the game was the battle between two contrasting styles. The Blue Devils pulled out the 85-84 comeback win as their perimeter-oriented offense endured against the Tar Heels’ interior attack.
Duke came out of the gates showing no hesitation to shoot early in the shot clock from anywhere on the floor. Rivers set the tone early, hitting two deep 3-pointers and scoring 10 of the Blue Devils’ first 12 points. With just under eight minutes left in the first half, the Blue Devils had already attempted 13 shots from beyond the arc, connecting on six of them, on their way to a 32-25 lead.
“We have a lot of guys that can shoot 3s,” Rivers said. “If you look at our starting lineup, four or five guys are great shooters. A lot of people are saying they miss shots, but we shoot the ball with confidence.”
And on a day that has become about so much negativity and hate directed towards Duke fans after last night’s N.C. State game, here is a video of Rivers’ shot to warm the hears of Cameron Crazies as they head into the weekend:
“And this place is in stunned silence…”