North Carolina led the game by 10 points with 2 minutes left. The game looked to be in hand, but nobody told the Duke Blue Devils that and Carolina failed to finish, losing at the buzzer on an Austin Rivers three pointer as time expired. Final score, Duke 85 North Carolina 84.
Duke led the game for the majority of the first half on the heels of a barrage of three's while Carolina dominated in the paint. But with just under a minute left in the first half, the Tar Heels gained the lead and did not relinquish it until the Rivers buzzer beater.
Tyler Zeller looked like a Man amongst Boys in the first half, while Harrison Barnes struggled with his ankle. In the second half, the roles reversed as Barnes became unleashed while Zeller found it more difficult to score and became strapped with foul trouble.
Zeller ended up with 23 points and 11 rebounds while Barnes poured in 25 with most coming in the second half. John Henson had 12 points and 17 rebounds as the Tar Heels dominated in the paint with a 41-31 rebounding advantage.
The Duke rally in the last two minutes started with a Tyler Thornton 3 that cut the lead to 7, Seth Curry drilled another long three and Ryan Kelly stuck with a shot following up a miss. Meanwhile the Tar Heels left some points at the free throw line as Zeller missed a couple of attempts and the Tar Heels took a couple questionable shots.
With 13 seconds left Zeller found himself at the line where he converted 1 of 2 giving North Carolina an 84-82 lead before the Rivers drama. Rivers, the son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, launched a long three over Tyler Zeller and it was game over, 85-84 Blue Devils. Rivers finished with 29 points.
Duke finished the game 14-36 from threes while North Carolina went 1-6.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski, "They're really good and they can knock you out,...we didn't get knocked out. And as a result, we hung in there and we won the last round. I'm not sure we won the whole fight, but the last round, we did, and we won the game. But we fought the entire time. We fought a really good fight."
An emotional Roy Williams in the press conference "This one hurts.." Fact is it may just be the most painful home loss for North Carolina in their storied basketball history. The win, also knotted up the Atlantic Coast Conference as Florida State dropped a game to Boston College earlier in the evening. Carolina, Duke and Florida State are all tied at 7-2 in the conference and the Tar Heels fall to 20-4 overall.
Things don't get any easier for North Carolina as they host #20 Virginia on Saturday. Duke has defeated North Carolina 5 of the last 6 meetings.
(AP Photo/Burlington Times-News, Scott Muthersbaugh)