Around the South: The Duke - UNC Aftermath

Around the South: The Duke - UNC Aftermath
February 9, 2012, 6:30 pm
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With 2:38 left in Wednesday's Atlantic Coast Conference battle between Duke and North Carolina, the Tar Heels had an 82-72 lead and seemed primed to hold off their bitter rivals.

The 10-point, seeming-safe lead felt strong enough, but North Carolina had many chances to put Duke away during the second half and didn't.

When Mason Plumlee pulled down the rebound from Tyler Zeller's missed free throw with 14 seconds left in the game, he dished it out to freshman guard Austin Rivers who looked nothing like a freshman in one of the biggest rivalries in sports.

Rivers dribbled for a little under 10 seconds, created some distance between he and the North Carolina defender, and launched what was likely one of the greatest game-winning 3-pointers of his life.

Some UNC-Duke reaction:

Denny Kuiper, of the ACC Sports Journal, suggests that the Tar Heel players thought their lead was safe and the game was in the bag.

If you can imagine, Austin Rivers was pumped after nailing a game-winning 3-pointer Wednesday night. Jack Daly, of The News & Observer, tells us just how pumped.

Stephen Schramm, of The Fayetteville Observer, said the final minutes of Wednesday's game haunt UNC's Tyler Zeller.

News from Around the South:

Florida State is still the only team in the ACC that has beaten every other ranked conference opponent. However, the wins over Duke, North Carolina and Virginia might not be as valuable as Wednesday's loss to Boston College hurt. Coley Harvey, of The Orlando Sentinel, talks about the impact of the loss.

Jerry Tipton, of The Lexington Herald-Leader, said Kentucky coach John Calipari wants some team to come out and really challenge the Wildcats prior to tournament play.

Matt Jones, of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, might have made one of the biggest understatements of the day with the title of his article on the Arkansas loss to Georgia. Jones titled his article, "Hogs' postseason hopes take big hit" and that isn't nearly a strong enough statement. Arkansas has some big wins this season but cannot win on the road. I was willing to overlook some of that, but losing to arguably the worst team in the SEC is not easy to ignore.

CSS Game Balls

Austin Rivers, Duke - Rivers scored 29 points Wednesday but could have had 129 and that feat wouldn't have been as memorable as his buzzer beater 3-point shot to win the game over the Tar Heels.

Gerald Robinson, Georgia - Robinson scored a career-high 27 points in Wednesday's win over Arkansas and had six rebounds and five assists.

Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt - Ezeli was next to unstoppable underneath Wednesday in Vanderbilt's 76-61 win over LSU. He scored 21 points and created mismatches all night.

Skylar McBee, Tennessee - McBee, in just his second career start, scored a career-high 18 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

Quotable

"This is the best feeling I've ever had on the basketball court," Rivers said. "This is the best feeling I've ever had." - Duke guard Austin Rivers, shortly after hitting a 3-point shot to lead the Blue Devils to a 1-point win over North Carolina.

What to Watch Thursday

Ole Miss (14-8, 4-4 SEC) at (20) Mississippi State (18-5, 5-3), 7 p.m. ET - Ole Miss upset Mississippi State at home on Jan. 18 and now could use another win to legitimize the Rebels' hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid.

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