Just because something only takes 53 seconds doesn’t mean it’s not spectacular. If anyone ever tells you otherwise, politely inform them that Antawn Jamison had the ball in his hands for only 53 seconds against Duke on February 5th, 1998 and still gave them a night to remember.
The 1998 season between Duke and Carolina was truly a clash of titans. Duke, the preseason #1, went 12 deep and had a fantastic blend of veteran players like Roshown McLeod, Trajan Langdon, and floor-slapping human gerbil Steve Wojciechowski, to go with their blue-chip recruiting class of Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Will Avery, and Chris Burgess. Carolina, on the other hand, had first-year head coach Bill Guthridge’s “Six Starters” starring Vince Carter, Ed Cota, and Shammond Williams.
But the star of stars that year was Antawn Jamison. An excellent player as a freshman and sophomore, Jamison went full cheat-code as a junior and, in arguably the most hyped matchup in the rivalry’s history, he made that clear against the Dookies in Chapel Hill.
#2 Carolina’s 97-73 demolition of #1 Duke may very well be the greatest performance a Carolina team has ever played in the Dean Dome. Duke’s vaunted defense was helpless against the Heels, who scored 60 points in the paint. Most of them came from Jamison, who gave freshman defender Battier the basketball version of a life lesson. Jamison finished with 35 points on 14-20 shooting, also pulling down 11 rebounds.
As mentioned before, he only had the ball for 53 seconds. Watch the highlights, I beg of you. He puts on a clinic in moving without the basketball and not hesitating once he gets it in a good spot. His drop-steps, quick releases, and finishes around the rim are sublime. Jamison often made it look easy but to do it in a big game against an elite defense? The National Player of the Year race was over.
Earlier that week, Michael Jordan’s jersey had been pilfered by Duke students from the rafters of the Dean Dome. Little did they know that by the time the buzzer sounded that Thursday night, #33 would ensure that his jersey would be hanging there as well.