Virginia put a stranglehold on the ACC’s regular-season race, with a pulsating 65-63 win over Duke Saturday afternoon. It was a contest reflective of a top-five matchup, physical, intense and full of plot twists.
Virginia won the game more than Duke lost it, exposing some weaknesses in Duke’s uber-talented but uber-young team, turnovers, missed foul shots, lack of depth.
“It was an amazingly hard-fought game,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “Our guys played their hearts out. It’s obvious. Make a few free throws, don’t turn it over and you win. The world doesn’t have to change completely here. We’re on the right track. We just played a helluva game. We’re very, very disappointed in losing because we thought we had an opportunity to win. But you congratulate Virginia. They’re good and they made those plays. So, you shake hands and move on.”
Duke jumped to a 4-0 lead. But then the wheels started to come off. The Cavaliers took their first lead at 7-6, then 10-6, then 23-14, then 30-18.
What went wrong?
“They were physical, and our offense wasn’t clicking,” Grayson Allen said. “A lot of times they scored the ball on us and we weren’t getting stops like we expected to and that affected our offense.”
“We got worn out in the first half playing defense,” Krzyzewski said. “They wear you out when you’re playing defense in a man-to-man because you have to keep chasing them.”
It was 32-22 at intermission. Duke missed all seven of its first-half 3-pointers, Allen went scoreless, and Virginia played Duke even on the boards.
Duke had two second-chance points, two fast-break points, two foul shots and zero points from beyond the arc in the first half.
Virginia’s Devon Hall hit a 3-pointer to begin the second half before Duke started its comeback.
“We moved the ball well,” Allen said of the second half. “We played through our bigs and did a lot of high-low action. You have to move their defense because they’re so good if you let them set up.”
Duke also went 2-3 zone.
A 9-0 run made it 35-31, a 10-4 run put Duke up 41-39, with 12:30 left.
But Virginia kept its composure, kept running its offense and never lost contact with Duke.
The Cavaliers aren’t known as a great rebounding team but they hurt Duke on the boards in the second half. Jack Salt converted a three-point play off a rebound to put Virginia on top 42-41. Mamadi Diakite converted an O-board to tie at 46, De’Andre Hunter for a 55-53 Virginia lead, and perhaps most critically a Ty Jerome 3-pointer to make it 60-55 after two offensive rebounds.
“The 2-3 zone had us spaced out and we didn’t get the rebounds,” Gary Trent, Jr. said. “We have to learn from that.”
Allen agreed. “When we get into that zone, it’s up to the perimeter to come up with those long, loose-ball rebounds and we missed a few that we should have gotten. We’ve got to get those next time.”
While this was going on, Duke was leaving points at the foul line, lots of points. Duke led 51-48 at the under-eight time-out, with Wendell Carter, Jr. at the line. But Carter missed the first end of the one-and-one, then did it again at the 4:41 mark, then Duval at the 3:06 mark. Carter made one-of-two at the 2:25 mark.
In other words, in a span of about five minutes, Duke got two of a possible eight points from the line, going from a three-point lead to a four-point deficit.
Marvin Bagley III kept Duke in it, scoring from pretty much anywhere inside 30-feet.
But two plays decided it down the stretch. Down 60-58, Duval grabbed a defensive rebound and tried to hit the long pass downcourt to Carter.
It was picked off.
“He was open for a split-second but as soon as it was on my fingertips, I thought ‘I should not have thrown that pass.’ “
Virginia ran the clock till the 39-second mark, at which point Jerome delivered the dagger, a long 3-pointer.
“Good players make big shots like that,” Allen noted.
“They made us not play well,” Krzyzewski summed up. “They knocked us back early. In the second half, I thought we played really well. But we were in a position to win and somebody makes a play and somebody else doesn’t make a play. We played well enough in the second half to win but we didn’t close it out. We’re learning but we didn’t have enough today. Having a chance to win in a high-level game serves us well. It would have served us better had we won.”
Allen says it can pay off down the road. “Lots of lessons to be learned. We’ll look at the film and listen to the coaches and we’ll be better because of it.”
Duke got six minutes off its bench, none in the second half. Krzyzewski said Alex O’Connell has been battling the flu bug this week, Javin DeLaurier’s hamstring was bothering him and Marques Bolden is close but not there yet.
“We’re in really good shape and there were so many timeouts and stop actions. I’m sure we didn’t lose because of fatigue.”
Duke’s first home loss this season, this marked Virginia’s first win in Cameron since 1995.
This was the 15th meeting between top-5 teams in Duke Indoor Stadium/Cameron Indoor Stadium history. Duke has won 11 of them.
Bagley ended with 30 points and 14 rebounds, his 17th double-double. Carter added 14 points and 15 rebounds, including a 3-pointer that came when an errant lob to Bagley went in the basket.
But Allen, Trent and Duval combined for 19 points, shooting 8-26, 1-8 on 3s.
Duke also forced only five turnovers, while coughing it up 16 times. Duke outrebounded Virginia 41-30 but Virginia did more with theirs, a 12-10 advantage on second-chance points.
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Player of the game vs. Virginia
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Alex O’ Connell
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