Austin Rivers Owns The Moment, Finishes Off North Carolina

There are some people that are capable of owning the moment, and there are others who shy away from it. When I first watched Austin Rivers hoop during a high school game that aired on ESPN, and watched him (in the words of Kenny Masenda) get his “Kyle Lee Watson” on, there was no doubt that Rivers was going to get his. You just better get yours when you can.

Fast-forward to Wednesday night for Duke versus North Carolina, and there was Rivers having an awesome game and playing with the restraint that Coach Mike Krzyzewski has instilled in him. Sure, there are moments in games where Rivers will still go for his, but as the season has rolled on for Duke, Rivers has found the appropriate times to pick his spots.

Yet, as the Blue Devils were attempting to make their comeback from down 12 with 2 minutes to go, Rivers was still deferring to others: Finding Seth Curry for three, hitting Ryan Kelly on the baseline for a jumper, even though you could absolutely tell that he wanted to shoot….he passed the ball and made the right play. As time wound down and the Duke pulled to within one of Carolina (after UNC squandered a ten-point lead in the last two minutes) there was one person that had to get the ball. Every Duke player knew it, every UNC player knew it (except for Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller), the coaches knew it, the referees knew it and every person watching the game knew it. Get the ball to No. 0.

Nothing else needed to be said. Even with Seth Curry inexplicably trying to yell instructions to the man, even with a 7-footer in his face, it didn’t matter. Rivers was in his natural element and executed like only he could. Teddy ballgames for North Carolina. Comeback complete for the Blue Devils.

5 Replies to “Austin Rivers Owns The Moment, Finishes Off North Carolina”

  1. Yeah, what the hell was Seth Curry talmbout? Austin had it. He didn’t need Curry to tell him to shoot it. Curry needs to save that for folk like Dawkins and Thornton. LOL.

  2. I remember the time I was on the UCshow as we introduced the Journal and I was asked who would have a better night when these two faced off (Rivers or Barnes). Someone said Barnes and I said Rivers would go for 30. I am sure someone said Barnes would go for 40 then. I told you guys this kid is special. I also said that I didn’t know how he and Coach K would coexist. He is everything that a Duke player is not. But the kid can put the biscuit in the basket.

  3. All I could do was shake my head (and yell at Roy Williams) watching Austin do his thing. It’s crazy how much he’s grown in such a short time. I mean, I saw him live here in Philadelphia against Temple, and he looked like an in-over-his head, petulant freshman. Last night, he looked like a leader and an assassin, even with Reggie Bullock playing really tough defense on him throughout most of the game. Didn’t matter, Austin wasn’t going to be denied.

  4. This one really hurt, but I can’t be mad at Austin Rivers. Instead of spewing my usual amount of “anti- Blue Devil” sentiment as is customary after game regardless of the result, I had to give Rivers his due.

    I agree, it seems like only Zeller and Barnes were the only ones who didn’t now what was going to happen. It wasn’t that hard to figure out.. Duke WERE GOING to shoot a 3-pointer.. Austin Rivers would in all likelihood be the one taking it.. Tyler Zeller, a 7 foot senior, apparently blindfolded himself when Duke connected on 13 3-pointers.

    I’m not that good of a basketball pundit, but I do know that you never give a jump-shooter the opportunity to set his feet; not in any game, and definitely not one of such magnitude.. You try and make him drive, and if he makes the layup and shoots a runner and makes it, then that’s what happens; but at least you dictated how it was going to go.

    Instead, what happened was that Zeller let Rivers dictate matters, and that is a testament to the young man’s will; “I’m gonna dribble some time off this here shot clock, set up for a buzzer beater, and a nail it; and you ain’t gon’ do ____!!”

    Moments such as this are what makes this rivalry so great. Kudos to Duke for staying on their hustle. Not the result I wanted, of course, but you gotta give credit to where it’s due.

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