Duke basketball star Tre Jones sent Saturday’s game against rival North Carolina to overtime with a miracle shot. A missed free throw made it all possible.
It took an epic comeback to get there, and two last-second shots to make it happen. But No. 7 Duke Basketball knocked off rival North Carolina on Saturday, clawing back on the road and downing the Tar Heels on a buzzer-beating tip from freshman Wendell Moore in overtime.
Moore won the game for Duke with a putback that will top every rivalry highlight reel there is. But it was Duke star Tre Jones who saved the night for the Blue Devils.
The game was nearly over before Jones manufactured a miracle to push it to overtime. Down 84-82 with 4.4 seconds remaining in regulation, Jones found himself in a position most players never dream of: on the free-throw line, with instructions to intentionally miss.
So many players have been there before. So many have sent the ball ricocheting to the other team, bouncing in by accident, or missing the rim entirely.
Not Tre Jones.
The sophomore point guard, who finished with 28 points, five rebounds and six assists, said after the game that he’d prepared for that exact scenario in practice with Associate Head Coach Jon Scheyer.
“Me and Coach Scheyer have talked about that exact moment,” Jones told ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “He told me it’s probably best to take a couple steps to the right so it ricochets. And in practicing it, I felt like it comes out to the same spot every time.”
Jones had already made the first of two free throws to bring the game within two points, and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski substituted in forwards Matthew Hurt, Javin Delaurier and Jack White to help Duke secure the rebound on a shot Jones would purposefully brick off the front iron.
When Jones got the ball at the line, he launched it at the rim, sending it soaring beyond the 3-point arc. With roughly 3.9 seconds to play, he corralled the long rebound and stepped into a mid-range shot from the top of the key.
The ball left his hands with less than a second on the clock and sank at the buzzer.
“Coach always talks about preparing for the moment, and that’s a moment I wanted to be in is hitting a big shot like that in a big game like this,” Jones said after the game.
Jones went on to score nine points in overtime, including a free throw to tie the game before Moore’s tip-in at the buzzer pushed Duke over the top. But the free-throw Jones missed to force overtime will go down in rivalry history.
“That was an amazing play,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s one of those clinic things.”
“Tre made an unbelievably difficult play,” UNC Coach Roy Williams said. “It’s hard to even throw a chest pass off the rim like that and to bounce out 30 feet, and you’re the one that gets it and you make the shot. That’s an unbelievable play.”