In its first road game in over six weeks, the Cavaliers led by as much as 10 points late in the first half against the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils, but, just as against Carolina, it was a tale of two halves. Virginia found itself up by six at the half, 31-25, but was outscored by 22 in the second half to fall 76-60.
As we have said repeatedly here, the Cavaliers live and die by Mustapha Farrakhan. Virginia was led by Farrakhan and Joe Harris, each with 15 points, but Farrakhan failed to make a single field goal in the second half, coming up with just three free throws in the final 20 minutes.
"We probably rushed offensively," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said after the game. "But what had us ahead in the game was defensively, we were giving them nothing. But in the last 10 minutes, there were breakdowns in our defense, and then you see how explosive they are."
A major factor in this game was Virginia's 6'9 Assane Sene, who put together 8 points, including 3-6 from the field and 2-2 at the line, and a team-high 5 rebounds. The Cavaliers were up 36-32 when Sene was called for his fourth foul, and just five minutes later, the Devils found themselves with the lead. After the foul call, Virginia was outscored by Duke 24-46.
"The kids battled, they made some good plays, they made some mistakes. But I thought we lost our way defensively those last 10 minutes.
If there's one thing Cavaliers fans have learned in the last two games against the ACC's blue blood, it's that Virginia must play for a full 40 minutes. There was a familiar undertone in both of these games, as Virginia outplayed its opponent in what can only be described as an ugly game, for the first 30 minutes. The final quarter could be described as, "a disaster."
"Against Carolina, we played until a certain point and then we wavered down the stretch, and it happened again in a setting where [Duke] hit a couple big shots and we couldn't answer them," Bennett said.
Virginia continues ACC play on Wednesday at a very winnable Boston College. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.