It was a perfect storm of nights, when Virginia's defense showed up, Joe Harris had a career night with 36 points, Jontel Evans did a marvelous job at controlling and distributing the ball, and Akil Mitchell pulled in a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Pardon me while I engage my caps lock button:
VIRGINA UPSET THE NO. 3 DUKE BLUE DEVILS BY A FINAL SCORE OF 73 TO 68, LEADING THE WAY WIRE-TO-WIRE!!
This was exactly the signature win the Hoos needed this season as they put their final resume touches before the end of the regular season. The adrenaline is a'flowin, but here are some notes and thoughts from tonight.
Hello Nation, I'm Joe Harris. Tonight was certainly a national coming out party for Joe Harris, the stud that Wahoo Nation fell in love with three years ago and who is finally in First Team All-ACC and for some, ACC Player of the Year discussions. Mid-range game? Check. Long-range game? Check. Soft touch? Check. Reboundability? Check. Seriously, world. What can't he do?
HOOS HOUSE?? OUR HOUSE. In front of a sold-out, at-capacity crowd, Virginia took care of business and is now on a 16-game tear at John Paul Jones, and will get to play in the cozy confines just one more time before the end of the season. Unfortunately, the flip side of this is that the Hoos are 2-5 in ACC road play this season, and with two more road games left and Virginia hardly being a lock, the Hoos will need to avoid...
THE DANGER ZONE. Just ask Maryland. Virginia might be in good shape to make the tournament, but that still required avoiding a let-down loss against Boston College on the road. BC plays fierce at home, including giving Duke a run for their money, and dispatching the Terps right after their big victory over the Blue Devils.
Where do we stand? I want to say that the Hoos are a lock for the tournament, but I don't believe they're there quite just yet. If the Hoos win out, they'll have a 13-5 record and will be in regardless of what happens in the ACC Tournament. To be completely safe, I'd think that for each regular season loss going forward, the Hoos will need an ACC Tournament win to make up for it. If the Hoos come up short, they're back on the bubble (though with a strong case, barring a complete breakdown to finish out the season).
Some other random thoughts:
1. Seth Curry had a very quiet first half, which allowed Virginia a large and early lead. Things were a little dicier in the second half as Curry heated up. Curry finished with 28 points on the night, only five of which came in the first half.
2. Whichever of the seven Plumlees is a potential ACC POY - Mason, I guess - is terrible at breaking the double-team, which is surprising since, as discussed 10 words ago, he is a potential ACC POY. You know you have a target on your back.
3. Related to the first two points, Duke was held to 0.998 points per possession tonight, just the second time all season they've been held to under 1.000 PPP.
4. The refs certainly didn't help our cause. I don't think it was egregiously in favor of Virginia, but it certainly wasn't what you expect from a Duke game.
Do you rush the court after beating Duke? Well when they're No. 3, you're unranked and possible on the wrong side of the bubble, and you've only beaten them once in the past decade, the answer is a definitive yes.