Trying not to cry, he cut a joke to the crowd and smiled. He was being K.C. Rivers.
"It felt great. I felt alive," the senior said. "I know this is pretty much it. I did not want to tear up. I kind of had to laugh and joke with myself to keep myself from crying.
"It has been a great four years. I have played in so many games and the four years I have been here have been great so that standing ovation is what topped it off. I have had it several times, like in the Syracuse game and other games, but this by far goes in a category all by itself."
Though his final performance in No. 18 Clemson's 75-57 victory Tuesday wasn't one of his best, and the fact he injured his right elbow did not help, Rivers said that's not what he is going to remember from his final game at Littlejohn. Instead, he will choose to remember his team's 20-2 run to start the second half, Trevor Booker's 13 points and 15 rebounds, fellow senior Raymond Sykes' 14 points and the five second half dunks.
He will also remember the fact that he leaves Clemson as the school's all-time leader in victories.
"It is a great feeling because I don't think no one can catch me," Rivers said smiling. "Whoever does break it will have to have a special ballclub. I was fortunate enough to play on four great teams with a great group of guys that helped me accomplish those goals.
"It is not just an individual type-record; it is more of a team record. I'm just getting the credit for it."
And he should.
Despite his bad offensive night, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell says Rivers will not remember that when he looks back 5, 10 or 15 years from now, instead he will look at what he accomplished at Clemson.
"I'm not disappointed because he went out as a winner," the Clemson coach said. "He won more games than any other player and I think that is more significant."
Rivers' only regret on senior night was his injured elbow, which he injured in the first half. It contributed to his 1-for-7 and two-point effort.
"The trainer told me to keep moving my hands and the tingle will go away, but the pain was there throughout the whole game," Rivers said. "It was making me frustrated because I don't like playing with pain. I don't tolerate pain very well.
"I was trying to keep myself doing what I like to keep doing."
So Rivers instead played defense, and what a job he did. He held Virginia's top scorer Sylven Landesberg to three points on 0-for-7 shooting and three turnovers.
"It is not all about scoring," he said. "Did you not think I was out there all the time? Landesberg did not score. The majority of the time I was on him. The things you look at and what I have done here, I have done some great things and it was not all scoring."
But it all leads to victories and that's what Rivers will carry with him as his legacy at Clemson comes to an end.
"I'm sixth all-time in scoring. I'm fine, like I said to the crowd; we have plenty of more games to play. Every game is not going to be pretty and every game is not going to be your best.
"As long as you are out there given it your all, that is all that matters."
Rivers a big winner
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