Duke Rallies to Beat North Carolina on 3-Pointer at Buzzer

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Austin Rivers’s 3-pointer at the final buzzer capped a 13-2 closing run by Duke University in its 85-84 victory at the University of North Carolina, the latest chapter in one of college basketball’s best rivalries.

Duke trailed 82-72 with 2:09 left before holding the Tar Heels to two free throws while hitting three 3-pointers and two jump shots in the closing minutes.

The Blue Devils now have won five of the past six games between the intrastate rivals, which are separated by eight miles and have been playing each other in basketball since 1920.

“I just shot it with confidence and God made the ball go in,” Rivers said in a courtside television interview while his father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, celebrated in the stands. “This is the best day of my life.”

Duke entered the game ranked 10th in the nation in the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll and North Carolina was fifth. Syracuse defeated Georgetown in overtime and Kansas beat Baylor in other games last night matching teams ranked in the top 12.

Rivers, a freshman, led Duke (20-4) with 29 points in the game at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harrison Barnes had 25 points for the Tar Heels (20-4). Both teams have 7-2 records in Atlantic Coast Conference games.

North Carolina leads the series, which ESPN in 2000 ranked as the third-greatest North American sports rivalry, 131-102. The Tar Heels had a 31-game home winning streak snapped.

Duke’s Late Rally

After Barnes’s jumper gave the Tar Heels an 82-72 lead, Tyler Thornton and Seth Curry hit 3-pointers 21 seconds apart to pull Duke within four points. Ryan Kelly hit a jumper for Duke with 1:09 remaining and Tyler Zeller, who had 23 points for North Carolina, hit one of two free throws.

Kelly then pulled Duke back within one point on a shot with 18 seconds left that accidentally was tipped into the basket by Zeller. With 13 seconds left, Zeller made one of two free throws, leaving the Tar Heels up by two points as the clock wound down.

The victory gave Duke its 16th consecutive 20-win season and improved Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski’s record against North Carolina to 37-36.

“We fought like crazy to keep it close and then in the last few minutes we got hot,” Krzyzewski told reporters. “To hit a game-winner like that is storybook. (Rivers) had a magnificent game. That’s what he was put on this planet for.”

At the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York, Kris Joseph hit a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left in overtime to give second-ranked Syracuse a 64-61 victory against Georgetown.

The victory in the Big East Conference game gave Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim his 880th career win, moving him into sole possession of third place among Division I men’s coaches.

Boeheim had been tied for third with former North Carolina coach Dean Smith. The only coaches with more victories than Boeheim are Krzyzewski (920) and Bob Knight (902).

Kansas Defeats Baylor

Joseph had a career-high 29 points to lead the Orange (24-1). No. 12 Georgetown fell to 18-5.

In Waco, Texas, Jeff Withey scored a career-high 25 points as the seventh-ranked Kansas Jayhawks defeated sixth-ranked Baylor 68-54 in a Big 12 showdown to sweep the two-game season series from the Bears.

Kansas (19-5) took control with a 37-7 run that began late in the first half and extended into the second half against Baylor (21-3).

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net