BLACKSBURG, Va. – While Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg lamented Austin Rivers’ four 3-pointers, it was a different play that Rivers made that caught Mike Krzyzewski’s eye Thursday night.
The Blue Devils’ freshman guard fed Josh Hairston for an alley-oop midway through the second half when Virginia Tech pressed Duke for the first time.
“We broke it at half court,” Krzyzewski said. “Austin had confidence and gave (Josh) a great pass – it’s not like he’s been throwing a lot of lobs to Josh – and Josh finished it. They’re reluctant to press again after that because of that play.”
For the second straight game, Rivers displayed his passing skills, leading Duke with five assists.
He also finished with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor in the Blue Devils’ 75-60 win over the Hokies. Throw in Rivers’ five rebounds, and it was one of Rivers’ best performances of the year.
“I think he played a very mature game tonight,” Krzyzewski said. “He hit big shots. I thought his defense was good. I thought it was the most alert he’s been on defense.”
Offensively, Rivers has been seeing his teammates well and distributing the ball effectively off his drives in Duke’s two most recent games. The Hairston alley-oop may have been his most noticeable assist, but Rivers has also found a number of teammates on the perimeter for open jump shots.
“I know how I can create,” Rivers said. “Everybody’s going to try to come in because I can score so well. You look at the players we have on the team – we have some great players … so these past couple of games, I’ve been trying to distribute as well and get five assists or six assists. So I’m just using my teammates.”
Rivers has also looked for his shot.
He shot six 3-pointers against the Hokies, a number of which were well beyond the 3-point line. Virginia Tech was happy to give him those shots, but it ended up costing the Hokies since Rivers made four of them.
“You have to give Rivers credit,” Greenberg said. “He made four pretty deep 3s. We actually wanted to go under on him because we haven’t seen him shoot the ball like that.”