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Virginia Pulls The Upset At The Buzzer, 69-68

Duke wasn’t ready for this game.

Virginia v Duke
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 07: Trevor Keels #1 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after being called for a foul against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half of their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 07, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. Virginia won 69-68.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

There’s an old saying in sports. If you don’t want the officials to decide the game, don’t let it come down to the last play.

Duke made a cascade of mistakes that let it come down to the last play, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory as Virginia’s Reese Beckman knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer with a second left to give Virginia a 69-68 win over Duke and once again throw the ACC race back into chaos.

And give Virginia full props. They made Duke play their tempo, they played their pack-line defense like the good old days and they turned Paolo Banchero into a turnover machine in the second half.

But that Duke team that we saw blow through Notre Dame and North Carolina last week, on the road nonetheless barely showed up Monday night. Horrible turnovers, missed layups and allowing backup center Kadin Shedrick to make all eight of his field-goal attempts on the way to 16 points.

And still, Duke still seemed to have the game in control late. After trailing by as much as a dozen points (32-20) in the opening half, Duke kept getting close, falling back, getting close and falling back again. But Duke took a 64-63 lead on a Jeremy Roach layup with four minutes left left and Duke extended the lead to 66-63 and then 68-66 on two Trevor Keels foul shots.

A disastrous final two minutes doomed Duke. Up 66-64 the Blue Devils rebounded a Beekman miss but Roach got careless and Beekman picked his pocket right at the basket and tied the game at 66-66 with 1:48 left.

Keels put Duke back up and Duke got a stop. But Duke got too deep into the shot clock one last time and Theo John turned it over.

Again, Duke forced a miss and John grabbed the rebound. There was a lot of contact but when the official’s whistle blew the call was held ball, not Virginia foul.

And Virginia had the possession arrow.

Virginia called timeout twice with seven seconds left and got the game winner.

“You’ve got to stay with your man and we didn’t,” Mike Krzyzewski summed up.

“We put ourselves in a position to win,” Mike Krzyzewski said, “but we made two bad plays, one on offense and one on defense. Two really bad plays and that’s all it takes.”

Maybe it shouldn’t have come to that.

Duke fell behind 8-2, took tenuous leads at 9-8 and 17-15 and then got stuck at 17 for a long time.

Krzyzewski said Duke had a “rear-view mirror” after the big Carolina win and he sensed it early. He called a timeout barely three minutes into the game.

“I knew,” he said. “We were fighting that pretty much the whole game. I call if fighting human nature. Not attitude. Human nature.”

“We could have prepared better,” Trevor Keels acknowledged, “we started off a little slow. We came out sluggish. But you’ve got to give props to UVA.”

Mark Williams said Duke did not match Virginia’s level of physicality, at least not early.

“We didn’t come ready to play, ready to fight. They’re really physical and the refs weren’t calling too much.”

“In the first half we were not able to overcome them and what we just did,” Krzyzewski said. “We looked like a different team. We had to do a whole lot of things to massage that game to keep it close at halftime. They’re a team that you need a couple of days to prepare for because they run their stuff so well.”

Banchero hit two foul shots to make it 13-13 and then Duke’s top six, all those putative NBA stars, went over 10 minutes without scoring. Joey Baker hit a short jumper, John converted an offensive rebound and Bates Jones hit a three. Banchero missed three shots at the rim, A.J. Griffin missed a dunk and Mark Williams spent large chunks of the first half on the sidelines in foul trouble. While Duke’s reserves were trying to keep Duke in it, Virginia went on a 19-7 run, fueled by long possessions and second-chance points.

“They carved us up,” Mike Krzyzewski summed up the first half, lamenting Duke’s inability to block out on their defensive boards.

Duke woke up late and cut the lead to 34-29 at the intermission and the hill didn’t seem unmanageable at halftime.

But Duke kept rolling the boulder uphill and it kept rolling back down. The Blue Devils cut the lead to three at 34-31, 36-33, 39-36, 41-38 and 45-42 but couldn’t get the stops they needed to get a big run and put away the visitors. It came down to those final few minutes and Virginia made the plays it needed to make.

Beekman’s 3-pointer was only Virginia’s second of the night, 2-12. But they turned it over only five times, while forcing 15.

And Virginia held Griffin to a single basket, an offensive rebound and held Banchero scoreless in the second half. In fact, Banchero took only one shot after intermission, a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer that never had a chance.

“He’s touching the ball,” Krzyzewski said of Banchero. “He needs to take more shots. He needs to take his jump shot. When he does get the ball, a lot of double teams. So, he’s got to pass out of it and we’ve got to hit shots. If we hit shots, they don’t double team.”

Krzyzewski did praise Duke’s ability to get to the line and convert—18 of 22-but that was about it for positive comments unless “we gave ourselves a chance to win” is what you’re looking for.

Krzyzewski said his young but talented team is still learning the reality that they are going to get everybody’s best shot and just cannot take nights off.

“Teams are hungry. We’ve got to be hungry after we’ve eaten. You have a big meal and you’ve got to be hungry again, I thought they were hungrier and tougher than we were tonight.”

If Duke can learn that lesson in time, then maybe it’s a blip in the radar.

Maybe. But Duke doesn’t have long to dwell on it, with road games at Clemson Thursday and Boston College Saturday and those teams are going to be hungry.

“It’s a tough loss,” Krzyzewski said, “because of the way it ended. But we were not worthy of winning most of the game.”


Player Of The Game vs. Virginia

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Wendell Moore
    (15 votes)
  • 2%
    AJ Griffin
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Paolo Banchero
    (6 votes)
  • 25%
    Mark Williams
    (82 votes)
  • 1%
    Jeremy Roach
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Joey Baker
    (7 votes)
  • 17%
    Theo John
    (56 votes)
  • 24%
    Bates Jones
    (78 votes)
  • 19%
    Trevor Keels
    (63 votes)
318 votes total Vote Now