CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Austin Rivers never looked like a freshman in his first Duke-North Carolina rivalry game – including when he buried a shot that will live on in the lore of this fierce rivalry.
Rivers hit a 3-pointer at the horn to give No. 10 Duke an 85-84 win over No. 5 North Carolina on Wednesday night, snapping the Tar Heels' school-record 31-game home winning streak.
Rivers scored a season-high 29 points and hit six 3s, the last over 7-footer Tyler Zeller with the Blue Devils (20-4, 7-2) trailing by two in the final seconds. The ball swished through the net, sending Rivers running down the court in celebration while the rest of his teammates gave chase before mobbing him in front of a stunned UNC crowd.
Rivers' 3 capped a wild rally for the Blue Devils, who trailed by 10 points with about 2 1/2 minutes left.
Harrison Barnes scored 25 points for the Tar Heels (20-4, 7-2), while Zeller finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. But Zeller missed two free throws in the final minute, including one with 13.9 seconds left that set up Rivers' winning shot.
It was a finish befitting the rivalry, from Rivers' shot to Barnes' second-half surge to a strange play in which Zeller accidentally batted the ball into the Duke basket on a rebound attempt, bringing the Blue Devils within a point with 14.2 seconds left.
From the start, the Blue Devils seemed determined to rely on the 3-point shot to offset the Tar Heels' dominance inside. They hit plenty early and led by eight in the first half, then cooled off as the Tar Heels charged out of halftime to take control and lead by 13 points.
In the end, however, the Blue Devils' shooters warmed up just in time to stop North Carolina's long home winning streak.
First Seth Curry drained a 3 that made it 82-78 with 1:48 left. Then Ryan Kelly followed with a jumper off his own missed 3 that closed the gap to 82-80. Then, after Zeller hit a free throw, Kelly launched a long shot that appeared to be a 3 over John Henson. As the ball was falling short of the rim, Zeller tried for the rebound but accidentally deflected the ball up and into the basket to cut the deficit to 83-82.
Then again, North Carolina probably never should've let it come to that.
After trailing most of the first half, the Tar Heels ran off a 14-4 run to start the second half and build a 13-point lead. Barnes – who didn't have a field goal in the first half – finally getting going with a pair of baskets and a 3-pointer off a crosscourt pass from Kendall Marshall to take a 57-44 lead with 15:08 left.
North Carolina maintained at least a seven-point lead most of the way from there, with Barnes' last jumper giving the Tar Heels an 82-72 lead with 2:38 left.
Curry and Kelly each had 15 points for Duke, which shot 44 percent and matched a season high with 14 3-pointers.
North Carolina shot 59 percent in the second half, but went just 8 for 15 from the foul line after halftime to let this one slip painfully away.