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Duke Upsets Virginia On The Road, 69-63

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Devils put it all on the line and knock off the 'Hoos at home.

We'll spot that high five! Justise Winslow escapes two Virginia defenders en route to the basket and an upset road win.
We'll spot that high five! Justise Winslow escapes two Virginia defenders en route to the basket and an upset road win.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Every so often a game comes along that really shows what Duke basketball is all about. The win at Virginia was definitely in that class.

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After the big win in New York, the week hadn't gone so well: a loss to Notre Dame in a winnable game, then the ejection of Rasheed Sulaimon...Virginia was supposed to be more pain.

Yet it wasn't.

Duke took it at Virginia in the first half, just running and running and getting ahead of that very potent defense.

In the second, it was a different story: the Cavaliers began to assert themselves and built a double-digit lead about seven and change into the half.

And it seemed briefly like Duke might buckle.

Yet with 8:31 it was a six point game at 47-41. And when Virginia built the lead back to nine at 56-47, things were again not looking so good.

But Duke dug in. Tyus Jones converted a three point play, then Quinn Cook hit a three pointer.

Jahlil Okafor tipped a basket in to cut the lead to 58-55.

Quinn Cook and Matt Jones each hit a three, Cook at 3:22 and Jones at 2:47, to cut the lead to 63-61.

Even on television the mood change in John Paul Jones was palpable.

Justise Winslow had a steal and a layup, followed by another three from Cook to put Duke up 66-63.

And then came a sequence which may haunt Virginia's Mike Tobey for awhile: missed free throw. Offensive rebound. Missed chippy. And after a jump ball call, a missed layup.

Then, with 11 seconds left, the dagger: Tyus Jones hit a three to put his Blue Devils up six.

That was it. Virginia got off another three but Malcolm Brogdon missed and Duke won, 69-63.

What a gutty performance by the Blue Devils. Let's be clear: Virginia is a tremendous college basketball team. They're not just superior; they're really, really good.

So beating them counts for a lot. Beating them after losing to Notre Dame counts for more. And beating them after dropping Rasheed Sulaimon counts for even more.

Like most everyone, we don't know what happened there, but we have compassion for Rasheed, but how the team moves forward was (and remains) critical.

We thought that Winslow, with his injuries perhaps receding, really re-emerged in this one.

If you think of it as sort of a trade, or a tradeoff, a healthy and hale Winslow is more than compensation for the loss of Sulaimon.

We also thought that Grayson Allen, pressed into more minutes out of necessity, acquitted himself well.

And it's worth noting that despite Virginia's intense coverage of Okafor, the kid still hit 5-7.

But really the story of the game, aside from Winslow's re-emergence, was the play, particularly late, of Cook and Jones.

We heard not too long ago, from someone on TV who should know better, that a team can't win a national title with small guards.

Quick, someone call UConn's Ryan Boatwright (6-0) and Shabazz Napier (6-1) and tell them to give the rings back.

You certainly can't win without talent. But talent without heart and execution is orphaned.

Duke's talent is not really questioned. After this past week, with the comeback against St. John's, a near miss at Notre Dame and a remarkable win at Virginia under some duress, we think we can safely say this: the Blue Devils are playing on a different level, one much more defined by heart than mere talent.

It was a remarkably gutty win over a team that can go toe to toe with anyone in the country, including Kentucky. That's a great sign for the Blue Devils as the team continues to move from being talented to being accomplished.