Some nights, the other team is going to be hot, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Such was the case Saturday night in Charlottesville as the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils used scalding shooting beyond the arc to take down No. 3 Virginia, 81-71.
With the loss, Virginia falls to 20-2 overall and 8-2 in the ACC. Duke improves to 21-2 and 9-1 in conference play.
Virginia shot 47% from the field and 42% from three, led by Ty Jerome (back in action after missing Saturday’s game against Miami) and Kyle Guy with 14 points apiece. De’Andre Hunter added 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting.
The Hoos turned the ball over 14 times (10 in the second half), leading to 17 points for Duke.
Duke was blistering hot from three, connecting on 16-of-23 (62%). RJ Barrett led the Blue Devils with 26 points, followed by Zion Williamson with 18 and Cam Reddish with 17. The Blue Devils are tough to stop as is, but when they convert at that clip beyond the arc, it’s near impossible.
Duke jumped out to an 8-0 after Virginia came up empty on their first four possessions and the Blue Devils went 2-for-2 from three around a dunk from Williamson. Diakite got the Hoos on the board with a jumper, and good defense gave Virginia a chance to cut further into Duke’s lead. Salt drew a foul on Marques Bolden, but was unable to convert a miss from Guy as the shot clock ticked down
Virginia got outstanding defense from Diakite, and assisted Salt for a layup on the other end to make it 8-4 before Williamson canned Duke’s third three of the game on as many attempts. Staying the hot hand, Diakite connected on a three of his own, but Reddish and Barrett sandwiched a Diakite dunk with two more made threes. A Reddish layup gave Duke a 19-9 lead with 13:31 to play in the first half.
Hunter cut the lead to eight with an elbow jumper that touched every part of the rim before falling through, and Duke finally missed a three to give Virginia a chance to climb closer. A three-point attempt from Hunter missed, and Barrett made Duke’s sixth three of the game to double up the Hoos 22-11.
Another jumper from Hunter pushed the deficit back to single digits, but Clark couldn’t get the shot to go after burning his defender. Two free throws from Williamson pushed Duke’s lead back to 11, but a huge dunk from Huff negated the points and made it 24-15 with 9:51 to play in the first half.
Braxton Key missed a three, but hustled to corral his own rebound. A bad pass from Hunter led to a run out from Williamson for an easy layup, and Huff’s shot circled out harmlessly. On the other end, Barrett hit his fifth three of the first half to put Duke up 14 before Key followed his own miss to make it 29-17.
Guy missed from three, and Barrett missed his first three attempt of the game on the other end. Virginia had a chance to cut into the lead twice, but missed on an alley-oop to Huff and then Huff couldn’t finish a follow slam. Bolden made it 31-17 with 5:37 to play in the first half thanks to a couple free throws. Hunter finally got one to go for Virginia, and the defense held on the other end as they forced another miss in the lane.
Diakite and Hunter knocked heads on a screen, sending the former to the floor needing medical attention. Jerome lit a fire under the crowd with his first three of the game on the possession following Diakite’s injury, making it a nine point game with 4:27 to play. Jack White got a layup off of an inbounds pass to push it back into double digits, but a bad pass from Guy led to a turnover. After a scramble on a loose ball, Salt forced the jump ball, giving possession back to the Hoos.
Jerome finally got a runner in the lane to go, but Reddish hit Duke’s eighth three of the first half to put the Blue Devils up by 12 yet again. Guy got his first three of the game to answer, and Clark hit one of his own to somehow pull Virginia back within six with just under two minutes to play in the first half.
Williamson powered his way through the lane and got the free throw to go to make it a nine point game, but Guy answered it with a ridiculous three of his own. Duke turned the ball over on a high pass out of bounds, giving the Hoos a chance to get within a one-possession game with a minute left in the half. Guy took it himself down the lane and finished despite tons of contact, making it 39-35. The defense would stand, sending Virginia into the half trailing by just four despite Duke’s dominant start to the game.
Virginia shot 47% from the field and 50% from three (5-for-10) in the first half, led by Guy with eight. The Hoos had very balanced scoring as Diakite added seven, Hunter had six, and Jerome had five. Every player that saw the court for the Cavaliers scored at least once. After struggling with turnovers for two straight games, the Hoos had just four first half turnovers and came up with four steals as they forced Duke into nine TOs.
Duke shot 59% from the field, buoyed by its ridiculous 73% mark from three. The Blue Devils struggled in the paint, scoring just 10 of their points inside and going 5-for-11 (45%) from two. Barrett led Duke with 15 first half points on 5-for-7 shooting from three, and Williamson added 12.
Reddish bricked Duke’s first shot of the second half off the front of the rim, but Salt couldn’t hold on to a wide open pass to pull Virginia within two. Tre Jones got his first bucket of the game on the other end, but Jerome found Guy for an easy floater to cut the deficit right back to four. Reddish somehow got a three to fall after hitting a little bit of everything, putting Duke up seven.
Jerome went to the line, making both to pull Virginia within 44-39. Solid defense from Salt goaded Bolden into a travel violation, but a turnover led to a transition three from Reddish (Duke’s 10th of the game). Hunter drew a foul and went 2-for-2 at the line, but Duke got their own miss and pushed the lead right back to eight.
Another three from Reddish put Duke right back up by 11, leading to a timeout from Tony Bennett. Guy missed from three, but Hunter kept the ball alive. Guy managed to convert the old-fashioned three-point play, making it 52-44 with 14:33 left to play. A Jerome miss led to a runout by Duke, giving the Blue Devils a 10-point lead.
Huff blocked a shot on one end and hit the three on the other, bringing Virginia back within seven and the crowd back to life once more. Key stuffed Williamson on the next defensive play, and followed it with a layup on the other end to inch the Hoos closer. A three from Jones made it eight, and he pushed it to 10 after a questionable foul call sent him to the free throw line.
Duke missed a three on on end, and Jerome got one to fall to make it 59-52 before a layup from Jones pushed the Blue Devils’ advantage back to nine. Clark badly missed a three, but Key stole the ball from Williamson to give Virginia a chance to close the gap even more. Jerome willed a runner in to make it a seven point game. A free throw from each Bolden and Barrett gave Duke a 63-54 advantage with 8:05 to play.
Two Salt dunks sandwiched a Barrett three-pointer to make it eight points with just over seven minutes left in the game. Hunter closed the deficit to five with a three, but Duke answered with a layup to make it 68-61 with 5:04 to play. It looked like Hunter had another good look at a three, but Williamson closed out and blocked the ball into the 10th row of the stands.
On the other end Williamson made it a nine point game off of a rebound and put back. Salt drew a foul and went to the line for two, but badly missed both. Jones got a floater to go on the other end, but Jerome answered to keep the deficit at nine. One free throw from Williamson made it a 10-point game, but Huff kept the pressure on with his second three of the game with 2:25 to play.
Duke slowed down their offense to try and burn clock, and Williamson was able to get a rebound to keep the possession alive. He would make it 75-66 on a monster dunk, effectively sealing the result.
A three from Guy cut it back to seven points with 1:02 to play. Free throws from Jones pushed it to nine points. Virginia couldn’t get Hunter’s three to fall, and — after a review for possession — Duke got the ball back. Williamson went to the line and made one to make it 79-69, and Jerome closed it to eight with a tough layup. Two more free throws for the Blue Devils made it a 10-point game, and Virginia stopped fouling after Jerome lost his handle on the baseline and turned it over.
Next up, Virginia heads to North Carolina for a Big Monday game.