Coach K’s Top 5 All-Time Moments Against North Carolina
Ahead of the February game, we watched the best moments between head coach Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina at the Dean Dome. With the final chapter of the rivalry set to unfold on Saturday, The Blue Zone is counting down the top five all-time moments from the Krzyzewski era against neighbors Duke.
5. February 8, 2012: The Rivers Ruiner
It’s perhaps one of the most remembered matches Blue Devil fans have in Duke’s long-running rivalry with North Carolina. With just 5.8 seconds remaining on the clock and a two-point gap to close, Austin Rivers fought his way around the top of the arc and let fly with 1.5 seconds remaining. The shot sailed unimpeded to the basket and entered without a sound except for the cacophonous roar of the small Blue Devil contingent inside the stunned and silent Dean Dome that evening.
Rivers notched a ridiculous 29 points that night, backed up by 14-rebound monster Mason Plumlee and 15 points apiece from Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly. It was a top 10 heavyweight matchup with Duke ranked 10th and North Carolina fifth, both with deep playoff hopes, identical records and star rosters. While the game was generally testy and entertaining, fans were spared the ultimate spectacle until Rivers’ last-second heroism firmly entrenched it in Blue Devil lore. This game, to this day, remains one of the most iconic hits in Tobacco Road history.
4. February 8, 2020: Double buzzers
Just over a month before the NCAA canceled the 2020 tournament, hoops fans across the country were treated to a game that will forever live on in Tobacco Road folklore. Filled just short of its maximum capacity of 21,750, the Dean Dome saw unranked and struggling North Carolina, 10-13 at the time, up 13 against No. 7 Duke with just over four minutes to play, backed by the deafening chorus of the Tar Heel faithful. Vernon Carey Jr. and Cassius Stanley, two freshmen who each dropped more than 20 points on the night, each fouled out, removing two huge playmakers and big men from a game that saw the Blue Devils traditionally dominant easily repelled.
Then Tre Jones took it to 11. The runner-up was the fourth member of the 2018 all-star recruiting class which included Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, but stayed on for his second season, leading the team. from point guard with consistent performances and frequent moments of brilliance. This game was one of those times when Jones went into takeover mode, scoring 28 points. His intentionally missed free throw put the ball back in his hands for the first batter of the night who sent the game into overtime. Duke then rallied from five points with 20.6 seconds left in the extra period to give the ball again to Jones, whose three airballs were caught by current captain Wendell Moore Jr. for the winner then the stopwatch reached zero. College basketball at its best.
3. February 28, 1981: The first of 50
If for no other reason than its historical significance, Krzyzewski’s first game-winning date with the Tar Heels should be included in a list of his best moments against them. Much like the 2020 Jones-show, senior Gene Banks hit a flying jumper just off the charity stripe to take the game beyond regulation. His six points in overtime contributed to a crushing 66-65 triumph at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Coach K’s Blue Devils may have only gone 17-13 this season and ended their road to the NIT quarter-finals, but secured their first victory of an immensely successful era against a fantastic team of Tar Heel.
Led by legendary head coach Dean Smith, North Carolina reached the national title game in 1981 behind James Worthy, a seven-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA champion with the LA Lakers. Duke played David that legendary night, however, spoiling the Tar Heels party as he would 49 other times with Krzyzewski at the helm. It was the meeting of two great coaches in college basketball’s most iconic venue and the genesis of a rivalry unmatched in the sport. Staging.
2. February 5, 2004: The first round
Because of his success leading this school on the road, people often forget that Roy Williams triumphed at Kansas for 15 seasons until his transfer in 2003. In his stint with the Jayhawks, he coached the team to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, two national championship appearances and nine conference titles after 10 years alongside Smith as an assistant coach at Chapel Hill. He and Krzyzewski had faced off several times in previous years — including in the 1991 national championship game which Duke won — but this was different. Now, two Hall of Fame coaches with more than 800 wins would face off at least twice a year in the most heated rivalry in college hoops.
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As with the rest of their time in opposing positions, this game was neck and neck throughout. It took overtime to separate the two star rosters, with Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton in Williams’ team and JJ Redick and Luol Deng in Krzyzewski’s, but when the torrent finally subsided, it was the number 1 of the Blue Devils who remained standing. through the skin of their teeth. A reverse layup from Chris Duhon sealed the deal, but the Tar Heels – who would go on to win the national title the following season – gave Duke a run for his money. It was the Frazier vs. Ali of college basketball, and it was at the box office.
1. February 28, 1998: The perfect moment
What else could it be?
This game had it all. A Rosshown McLeod game winner with 3.8 seconds left? To verify. Four, count it, four line opportunities for North Carolina to win it? To verify. Cameron Crazies storms the court? To verify.
To top it all off, the 1998 senior night was the occasion for Krzyzewski to secure his 500th head coaching victory against Duke’s biggest rivals at home, backed by an adorably crazy and jam-packed student section. . It was the No. 1 Blue Devils against the No. 3 Tar Heels, a chance to avenge a 24-point blow to Chapel Hill earlier this season and the last hurrah at home for senior Steve Wojciechowski.
The beloved playmaker boasts the best time with Krzyzewski of his entire career at the helm of the rivalry, emerging from a chaotic final 9.5 seconds that took six minutes of real time to sprint towards his coach for a hug leaping passionately as the Crazies stormed the court.
The scene, the game, the score, the record, the emotion. the perfect moment.