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No. 4 Virginia falls to No. 1 Duke 72-70 for its first loss of the season

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Hoos go cold from three as the Blue Devils get a big ACC win.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Duke Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

In a thrilling game that featured 14 ties and 15 lead changes between two of the best teams in the country, the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers fell at the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils, 72-70. It was Virginia’s first loss of the season, dropping them to 16-1 (4-1) and creating a six-way tie atop the ACC.

One game after being seemingly unable to miss from three, the Cavaliers were ice cold from beyond the arc (3-for-17). The Hoos shot 53% from the field, but couldn’t come up with a big shot down the stretch when needed to pull off the upset. Shooting woes became a bigger issue as Duke switched to a zone at times in the second half, and the shots weren’t falling from outside.

The Hoos kept it close throughout as the two heavyweights traded body blows. Virginia had four players in double digits as De’Andre Hunter led with 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy added 14 points apiece, and Braxton Key chipped in 11. Jay Huff continued his trending in the right direction with four points and two blocks in seven minutes.

Both teams were evenly matched throughout as both turned the ball over eight times, and Duke shot 51% from the field. RJ Barrett had 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting, and Zion Williamson added 27 points, nine rebounds, and a block.

Jerome got the scoring going with a floater in the lane, but Reddish canned a deep three with two seconds on the shot clock to put the Blue Devils up 3-2. Hunter tied things up at three, going one-for-two from the line, and Virginia got the ball back after Mamadi Diakite played excellent one-on-one defense against Williamson.

Hunter put Virginia on top with a good take in the lane, but Jack White followed a missed three from Williamson for the flush dunk to tie it once again. Virginia once again took the lead thanks to a smart read of the defense by Guy, and Reddish beat Guy on his own miss to tie it at seven with 15:20 to play in the first half.

Williamson drew a foul barreling through the lane, and he made both to give the Blue Devils a two point advantage. Another Williamson bucket and the and-one gave Duke a 12-7 advantage, but Guy went in the lane with a nifty move to close within three again. Duke took advantage of another offensive rebound to keep their possession alive, ending with a Barrett layup off the glass over Salt’s outstretched hands.

A pull-up jumper from Hunter was answered by Reddish on the other end, but Duke was called for goaltending on a high-arcing shot by Kihei Clark after he drove through the entire defense. Duke held a three point advantage at 16-13 at the under-12 timeout, and the Blue Devils got one of two at the free-throw line

Jay Huff entered the game and immediately made an impact with two blocks and a dunk. Williamson showed why he is the favorite to go first in the NBA draft as he scored six straight for the Blue Devils in a variety of ways as Duke built their lead back to five coming out of the under-eight timeout.

Virginia was unable to take advantage of a fast break after Clark kicked it out to Jerome, and Barrett gave Duke its biggest lead of the game at seven after two free throws. Hunter emphatically threw it down to make it 29-24, but a stop-and-start move by Barrett gave the Blue Devils the cushion right back.

Hunter and Jerome got easy layups to pull Virginia back within three, but Barrett answered to put Duke up 33-28 with 3:48 to play in the half. Jerome found Diakite for an alley-oop, and Diakite was able to affect Williamson’s shot on the other end to give the Hoos a chance to tie it. Jerome wasn’t able to hit the floater in the lane, but the Hoos forced another turnover and Guy went the distance for the tough layup over White in transition.

Duke pushed their advantage back to five as Virginia missed a three that would have given them the lead and turned the ball over their next possession. Jerome missed the front end of a one-and-one with two seconds left in the half, sending the Blue Devils into the break up 37-32.

Virginia outshot Duke in the first half, making 58% of their shots from the field to the Blue Devils’ 44%. The Hoos were a cold 1-for-8 from three, but connected on 15-of-18 from two as they had little difficulty getting to the bucket. Duke made Virginia pay on turnovers and second chance attempts, outscoring the Hoos 16-6 in those categories combined.

Hunter led the Hoos in the first half with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and Guy added nine (and made Virginia’s lone three). Jerome struggled as he had just four points on 2-for-7 shooting (0-for-3 from three).

Williamson and Barrett led the Blue Devils with 14 points apiece in the first 20 minutes, while Reddish had six rebounds. Virginia held a narrow advantage in fast break points, 6-4, in the first half. Both teams had four turnovers.

Virginia started the second half with a turnover, but the defense stood tall and Hunter pulled the Hoos back within three with another easy layup. Despite a couple chances to cut the deficit further, Barrett put Duke up 39-36. Salt took advantage of a size mismatch with a hook over Jack White to bring them back within three. One made free throw from Williamson was answered by a three from Jerome—just the second of the game for the Hoos—but White made it 42-39 with a dunk.

Jerome, feeling it in the second half, made it a one-point game with a finish through hard contact. A quick trigger three from Reddish gave the ball back to the Hoos, and two free throws from Braxton Key (the foul called thanks to a beautiful pass from Huff) gave Virginia the lead back at 43-42.

Barrett got away with a push-off for a layup, Jerome finished another through contact, and Williamson finally got Duke going in transition as the two squads traded the lead back and forth. Key passed up a three and finished a gorgeous shot in the lane, but was whistled for the and-one on the other end as Williamson powered through for the acrobatic layup.

Williamson was unable to connect on the free throw, keeping Duke’s advantage at 48-47 with 12:24 to play. Guy cut through the lane, putting the Hoos on top again for the 10th lead change of the game. Virginia turned it over—their third of the half—but Clark drew an offensive foul on Reddish. Another turnover led to another trip to the free throw line for Williamson, where he made both to give Duke a 50-49 lead with 10:47 to play.

A gorgeous feed from Jerome to Salt put the Hoos back in front, but Barrett responded. The action kept its breakneck speed with Jerome and Williamson trading buckets. Hunter tied the game at 54 with a free throw of his own, but was whistled for a foul on the other end that sent Reddish to the line where he put Duke back up by one.

Guy missed a deep three, but Williamson turned it over on the other end to give Virginia another chance to re-take the lead as the clock ticked through eight minutes to play. Key tied things up at 55 with a free throw, and Barrett responded with a bucket after Hunter fell down on defense. Salt drew a foul and made one-of-two to pull Virginia within one at 57-56 with 6:46 to play. Another offensive foul on Reddish gave the ball back to the Hoos.

A volleyball spike from Williamson deflected out to Guy on the perimeter, but he wasn’t able to connect and the big man made the layup on the other end to give Duke a three point advantage. DeLaurier fouled out of the game with 5:41 remaining, and Key made both to make it 59-58.

Williamson got the benefit of another foul call in the lane, but missed both. On the other end, Hunter couldn’t get a layup to go as he sent it off the side of the backboard. The Blue Devils tried to push in transition, but savvy defense from Jerome cleanly blocked the ball out of bounds. Duke pushed their lead back to three off of a Williamson dunk off the out of bounds play.

On the next possession, Hunter took Williamson in the paint after picking it up in the middle of the 2-3 zone to pull within one with 4:26 left. The Blue Devils turned it over on the offensive end, but Jerome’s shot fell short and Duke corralled the rebound. Barrett finished a spin move in the lane to make it 63-60.

Guy was unable to make a wide-open three against the zone, and Barrett put one in with the foul on the other end to go up five with 2:18 to play. Jerome missed a good look at a three that just clanged off the front rim, but the Hoos got the ball back after a miss by Duke as the shot clock expired. Hunter couldn’t get a layup to go in the lane, and Salt sent Marques Bolden to the line for two where he put Duke up seven with just over a minute to play.

Jerome missed a free throw and Duke pushed their lead to eight with 44 seconds to play. A dunk from Key with 37 seconds left made it a two possession game, and Williamson missed both at the line. Guy finally hit a three (just the third of the game) to keep the pressure on the Blue Devils at 69-66 with 23 seconds left.

Barrett made both to make it five points, and Key pulled it within three yet again with two made free throws with just under nine seconds remaining. Reddish made one free throw to make it a four-point advantage, and Hunter’s two-point jumper at the buzzer counted, but was irrelevant.

Next up, Virginia hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday night at John Paul Jones at 9pm.