DURHAM — Duke freshman Austin Rivers was handed the flip side of the Duke vs. North Carolina basketball rivalry on Saturday night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Less than a month after Rivers hit one of the most memorable and dramatic game-ending shots in ACC history to give the Blue Devils an 85-84 victory, the Tar Heels made the quick trip to Durham and claimed a stunning 88-70 win for their fifth Cameron win during the past seven years.
The better team won, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. Now, were all zero and zero again, and we have to see what we can do.
The win gave the Tar Heels (27-4, 14-2 ACC) the ACC regular-season title for the 19th time outright and left Duke (26-5, 13-3) to hope for a rubber match next week in Atlanta during the ACC Tournament.
We want that. Thats exactly what we want, Rivers said. We have to win enough games down there to deserve that chance, but thats what we want. We want to work our way back into a place to play them again.
For all the hype and regional excitement, there really was no reason to expect a duplication of the first game, when Rivers scored 29 points and converted six three-pointers.
In the rematch, Carolina went inside early, stayed there and dominated the rebounding (45-28) to such an extent that Duke was playing from behind throughout.
They just killed us inside on the boards, Rivers said. It wasnt the fault of our bigs, either. It was all of our faults. I should have taken the ball to the rack more, especially in the first half. But the seasons not over.
Were not finished because of this game. The first game didnt finish them. This game wont finish us, either.
But since that first game, Rivers has gone 35-for-87 on field goals and 14-for-42 on 3-point attempts. His 5-12 shooting (1-6 on 3s) Saturday came after he went 0-3 on 3s in Tuesdays 79-71 win at Wake.
They didnt do anything different on defense at all, Rivers said. They just were too much for us early in the game, and we werent able to come back. Tonight, it was 24 points (deficit at half). Over there, we were down by 10 one time. Big difference.
The other big difference for the Heels was point guard Kendall Marshall (20 points, 10 assists), who had to have wrapped up a first-team all-ACC spot. If not, there should be an investigation.
He was great, what can you say, Rivers said.
Led by Marshall's 20 points, all five Carolina starters finished in double digits, including 13 points and 10 rebounds by John Henson and 19 points and 10 rebounds by likely ACC player of the year Tyler Zeller.
Krzyzewski did make it clear that as impressed as he was with Carolinas performance, there is still time for both programs to make a late statement.
Therell be a lot of hungry teams in Atlanta, Krzyzewski said. I think itll be a hell of a tournament.