CAVS UPEND DUKE
In a battle of wills between the ACC’s top offensive and defensive teams Thursday night, the defense dominated.
Virginia stifled Duke’s scorers, holding the No.3 Blue Devils to their second-lowest shooting percentage of the season in a 73-68 Cavaliers win in ACC basketball at John Paul Jones Arena.
“They are a good defensive team,” said Duke center Mason Plumlee, the Blue Devils leading scorer this season who had only 10 points while attempting only five shots against Virginia. “They have been all year. But I thought we didn’t handle it.”
Behind a career-high 36 points from junior guard Joe Harris, Virginia (20-8, 10-5 in ACC) picked up a huge win in its push for an NCAA Tournament berth.
As has happened with all Duke losses this year, the fans stormed the court after the final buzzer. Duke’s players and coaches, including head coach Mike Krzyzewski, got caught up in the bedlam and had trouble getting off the court.
Krzyzewski wants arena security teams to do a better job of getting the opposing team off the court before the fans storm.
“Whatever you’re doing, you need to get the team off first,” Krzyzewski said. “Look, celebrate, have fun, obviously you won, that’s cool.”
Krzyzewski wondered what would happen if a fan confronted an opposing player or coach.
“The potential is there all the time for a fan to come up and say, ‘Coach you are a….’ and push you or hit you,” Krzyzewski said. “What do you do? What if you did something? That would be the story. We deserve that type of protection.”
The loss by Duke (24-4, 11-4) means first-place Miami (23-4, 14-1) clinched a share of the league’s regular-season championship.
The Blue Devils welcome the No. 5 Hurricanes to Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night in a battle of top-five teams. Duke needs a win to prevent Miami from clinching the ACC Tournament’s top seed.
Duke will have to shoot better than it did at Virginia. Facing a Cavaliers team that has allowed a league-low 54 points per game, Duke hit only 39.6 percent of its field goal attempts.
The Blue Devils entered the game leading the ACC in scoring offense (78.9 points per game) and 3-point shooting (41.6 percent),
Thursday night was only the second time this season that Duke has shot worse than 40 percent. The other time came on Jan. 23, when Duke hit only 29.7 percent of its shots in a 90-63 loss at Miami.
Duke struggled from the field as Virginia extended its defense from the start, disrupting Duke’s flow and keeping a hand in the shooters faces.
“We didn’t move the ball good enough,” Duke senior guard Seth Curry said. “Off screens and down screens, they trapped and were real physical. The only way to beat that is to move the ball quick and find an open person, because when they trap someone is open. But we weren’t physical enough and didn’t do that.”
Curry scored 28 points for Duke, bolstered by 10 of 12 shooting from the free-throw line. Quinn Cook had 22 points. Each had four 3-pointers for Duke, which made only 8 of 25 (32 percent) from behind the 3-point line.
Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon struggled to a 2 for 10 shooting night.
The Blue Devils shot only 34 percent in the first half and were even worse early in the second half when Virginia took control of the game.
Duke hit only 3 of 12 field goals over the first 12 minutes of the second half as Virginia extended its five-point halftime lead to 49-35.
Already leading 28-23 at halftime, the Cavaliers reeled off 10 consecutive points early in the second half while Duke went five minutes without a point.
With 15:10 left, Sulaimon was called for a foul on a driving Harris. Few seconds later, a frustrated Sulaimon was called for a technical foul as well.
Harris made four consecutive free throws and Virginia led 38-26. That matched the 12-point lead the Cavaliers had early in the first half.
Duke missed its first six shots of the game as Virginia opened the game with nine straight points to lead 9-0. Virginia, behind strong play from Harris, built an 18-6 lead before Duke could find any range on offense.
NOTES — Ryan Kelly, Duke’s 6-11 senior forward, was in uniform Thursday night for the first time since he suffered a right foot injury on Jan. 8. Kelly has been taking part in practices this week on a limited basis. During pregame warm-ups, Kelly shot 3-pointers with his teammates while also going through the layup line, but he didn’t play in the game.
Virginia 73, No. 3 Duke 68
Percentages: FG .396, FT .900. 3-Point Goals: 8-25, .320 (Curry 4-8, Cook 4-9, Thornton 0-3, Sulaimon 0-5). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 1 (Mas. Plumlee). Turnovers: 9 (Mas. Plumlee 3, Sulaimon 3, Cook, Hairston, Thornton). Steals: 4 (Thornton 2, Curry, Mas. Plumlee). Technical Fouls: Sulaimon.
Percentages: FG .462, FT .759. 3-Point Goals: 3-11, .273 (Harris 2-5, Jesperson 1-5, Nolte 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 6 (Harris 2, Anderson 2, Jesperson, Mitchell). Turnovers: 10 (Evans 4, Mitchell 2, Nolte 2, Jesperson, Harris). Steals: 3 (Evans, Anderson, Harris). Technical Fouls: None.
A—14,593. Officials—Roger Ayers, Mike Eades, Bernard Clinton.