Duke vs. Virginia final score: 3 things we learned as the Blue Devils ended Virginia's undefeated season
Virginia vs. Duke appeared to be a battle of two teams going in different directions. Virginia entered at 19-0 as the only team in the country to rank in the top five of both offensive and defensive efficiency. Duke had lost three of its last six and just dismissed a player for a reason other than academics for the first time in the Mike Krzyzewski era. Throw in an atmosphere only increased by the presence of "College GameDay" and there was no question this was the highlight of Saturday's slate.
Duke came out aggressive, pushing the pace and getting the Cavaliers' vaunted defense off-balance early, but Tony Bennett's team eventually found its grove. Virginia locked down in the second half and muscled the ball into the paint on offense to grab control. Duke had a final counter-punch left to throw, though, and it was enough to hand the Cavaliers their first defeat of the season, 69-63.
Duke hit two daggers from three in the final 90 seconds to seal the victory. The first came when Quinn Cook broke a tie with 1:20 left. With Virginia trying to get one more stop to get a last chance to tie, freshman point guard Tyus Jones stepped up and hit a three-pointer to seal the win with 11 seconds left.
Jones led Duke with 17 points. Malcolm Brogdon scored 17 points for Virginia in the loss. Here are three things we learned from Virginia's first defeat of the season:
1. Duke's freshmen came to play
The first thing everyone notes about Duke is its youth. By relying
on three freshman starters, the Blue Devils are forced to learn on the fly. There's a reason Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow were each McDonald's All-Americans a year ago, though. It's an immensely talented group, and on Saturday all three showed up to play.
Okafor was slowed in the first half but still finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Winslow was aggressive at both ends throughout to finish with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jones showed maturity beyond his years on the offensive end, ending the night with 17 points and four assists.
2. Virginia is big and athletic at every position
There was a time when this alley-oop slam by Justin Anderson felt like the game's defining play:
Virginia doesn't get as much attention as Duke or Kentucky in part because it lacks no-brainer future pros, but the entire rotation is more athletic than you might think. Virginia is huge on the wings with Anderson and Brogdon, and Anthony Gill has turned into a terrific two-way player on the interior.
Virginia led by eight with under five minutes, but just couldn't hold on. The Hoos' schedule doesn't get any easier with games against UNC and Louisville looming, but even in defeat this team showed how good it can be.
Rasheed Sulaimon's dismissal means Matt Jones and freshman Grayson Allen are about to see some tick. It also might not be much. Duke essentially rode its starting lineup to victory on Saturday and will likely be playing a short rotation throughout the season.
Coach K's core guys are certainly talented, but he also only has eight scholarship players on the roster. It's something to monitor as March grows closer.