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Duke Takes Down Virginia 72-70 In Cameron

Behind strong games from Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett

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NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Duke
Jan 19, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson (1) blocks the shot of Virginia Cavaliers guard De’Andre Hunter (12) during the second half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils won 72-70. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No point guard, no outside shooting, no bench.

No problem.

In a battle of 1 v.1 Duke held off previously undefeated Virginia 72-70, running its record to 15-2, 4-1 ACC.

Duke accomplished this with Tre Jones on the bench in street clothes. Duke shot 2-for-14 from beyond the arc, while missing 13 free throws. The starters played 188 of the 200 available minutes, scoring all of Duke’s points and grabbing all of Duke’s rebounds.

But in the third down-to-the-wire game in eight days, it was R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson delivering the big plays that led to a Duke victory. The duo scored 30 of Duke’s 35 second-half points.

It’s a tribute to the two offenses that they managed to score 142 points.

“That’s a high-level game,” Mike Krzyzewski marveled. “Every possession was good. If you scored you beat good defense, if you didn’t, good defense beat you. The crowd was great. It was a high-class, great game and we’re ecstatic that we won.”

Duke replaced Jones in the starting lineup with 6-7 junior Jack White, which gave them the ability to switch at all five positions. Virginia’s Tony Bennett said he’s not sure anyone had ever done that to one of his teams.

Krzyzewski said Duke wanted to contest the three and was willing to give up some dribble penetration to achieve that goal.

“We felt that we could not defend the baseline, floppy curls. They’re so good. [Kyle] Guy is the closest I’ve seen to J.J. in the league. A lot of people can shoot turning, he can hit turning. So, we just said, we’re going to try to limit their open threes and we did a good job of that. Overall, it worked better than if we had done the other stuff.”

Duke led most of the first half, the biggest margin at 29-22. But Virginia hung tough and went into the locker room down only 37-32.

Duke got most of its first-half points inside, even running an old-fashioned weave.

Williamson said the idea was to force Virginia’s defense to move.

“When we’re moving, we’re keeping the defense moving. That opened up some lanes. They don’t miss assignments. I’ve got to give them respect for that. If there’s a pick-and-roll, they’re there. They made us hit some tough shots.”

Williamson and Barrett each had 14 points at intermission, Williamson with another highlight-reel dunk.

Cam Reddish, who missed Monday’s game with an illness added seven points, six rebounds, an assist and a steal.

But Duke was only 2-for-10 on threes.

Duke decided to try its luck again from outside in the early minutes of the second half.

The Blue Devils missed two right off the bat, then Reddish missed another five minutes into the second half.

That was it from downtown. Duke did not attempt a three-pointer over the final 14:53.

Barrett and Williamson became the focal point of the offense, attacking and attacking and attacking again.

From 18:57 left until 2:18 neither team led by more than three points. In one dizzying stretch, the teams combined for 12 lead changes over a span of barely five minutes.

“They could play every possession at a high level,” Krzyzewski said of his team. “They reacted out of every timeout to what we wanted, if we put in a different set or defense or whatever, the communication was excellent.”

Barrett didn’t take a seat against Syracuse or Virginia. That’s 85 minutes. Williamson sat out less than a minute against Syracuse.

Yet, Duke kept going to the two freshmen and they kept answering.

“They’re mentally tough,” Krzyzewski said of the duo.” We didn’t make them mentally tough. They came here mentally tough. Zion and R.J. have played a high-level of scrutiny. We got tired. I thought they got tired too. It was that type of game. Obviously, we’re very tired. But it’s a good tired.’

Krzyzewski added that on his championship teams “usually our best players have to play a lot of minutes. So, I hope this will help them going forward.”

Duke also went zone a few times in the second half, in order to give his team a chance to catch their breathes.

Barrett, who was the primary ball-handler in Jones’ absence, downplayed any fatigue concerns.

“I did this over the summer. It wasn’t really hard. I was just the guy bringing up the ball. I tried more to set up the team and read what the defense is doing.We’re very conditioned. It’s what I signed up for.”

“Whatever the game calls for,” Williamson said of his high-usage rate. “Whoever has the hot hand, we’re going to get them the ball.”

Virginia didn’t exactly crack first but perhaps they blinked a little.

Down 63-60, Guy missed an opener jumper. Barrett scored inside, making it 65-60, with 2:18 left, the first two-possession lead for either team since the early seconds of the second half.

Duke got a stop, Bolden grabbing a D’Andre Hunter miss.

The Blue Devils had been missing enough foul shots to keep the visitors in the game.

But Bolden, a career-63 percent foul shooter at the end of a 33-minute playing-time-line, calmly buried both foul shots, putting Duke up by seven with 1:08 left.

“It’s just a testament to the work we’ve been putting in,” Bolden says. “I was able to step up when the team needed me to.”

It got a little tighter than it needed to. Duke missed some more freebies--the Blue Devils were 11-for-22 from the line in the second half--and lost Guy on a 3 that made it 69-66, with 24 seconds left.

Krzyzewski said this was Duke’s only mistake down the stretch.

But Reddish made it 72-68 with a foul shot and Virginia scored a meaningless field goal at the buzzer.


Barrett ended with 30 points, five rebounds and three assists. Williamson had 27 points and eight rebounds. That’s 57 of Duke’s 72 points. Reddish had two second-half points, ending with nine points and eight rebounds. Jack White (4) and Bolden (2) were the only non-freshmen to score. But they did combine for eight rebounds, as Duke out-rebounded Virginia 32-30.

Hunter paced Virginia with 18 points.

The teams combined for 5-for-31 on 3sut they only turned it over 16 times, eight apiece.

Williamson was asked about Scottie Pippen’s suggestion that he stop playing and prepare for the NBA draft.

He is not a fan.

“I can’t just stop playing in the middle of the season. I’d be letting a lot of people down. I came to Duke to play and live out this dream.”

About that bench. Javin DeLaurier fouled out in seven minutes, while Alex O’Connell struggled in five first-half minutes.

Fixing this next week has to be a priority.

No update on Tre Jones other than day-to-day, no deadline. He was never going to play today.


Player Of The Game vs. Virginia

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Jack White
    (4 votes)
  • 61%
    RJ Barrett
    (425 votes)
  • 2%
    Cam Reddish
    (16 votes)
  • 30%
    Zion Williamson
    (211 votes)
  • 3%
    Marques Bolden
    (25 votes)
  • 0%
    Javin DeLaurier
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Alex O’ Connell
    (5 votes)
692 votes total Vote Now
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