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Duke came into John Paul Jones Arena knowing it was going to be grudge match and knowing that stacking wins right now is crucial in getting a top seed in the ACC Tournament and the double bye. UVA finds themselves desperate for big wins and sweeping the Blue Devils would be a huge boost to their fleeting tournament hopes.

The Blue Devils spent much of the first game pressuring the perimeter and making Kihei Clark into a pocket passer and he carved them up with 9 assists. Duke defensively came out with a different strategy to make the Cavaliers, who came in shooting the 3 at a 30% clip, into a 3 point shooting team. That strategy, in the first half, didn’t work so well. Clark lit the Blue Devils up for 18 first half points, shooting 6-9 from beyond the arc. Fortunately the Blue Devils were able to lead at the half, despite Clark’s explosion, by 5. The rest of the Cavaliers roster shot 3-15. The Blue Devils leaned on sophomore Jeremy Roach who scored 7 in the first half on his way to 15 for the game, a season high.

Duke had trouble with Virginias physicality ini the first game and this game, there were shades of that with Duke going on several long scoring droughts but defensively Duke did enough to slow down Clark in the second half and Virginias 3-point shooting dipped from 50% to 25% in the second half. While Duke struggled shooting the 3 in the first half, shooting 3 for 10 but in the second half found their mark going 4-7. The Blue Devils never surrendered the lead but the Cavaliers did get within 1 point at the 5:02 mark of the second half but no closer. Duke was never able to extend the lead beyond 5 in the first half and Virginia hit big shots to keep game pressure on the Blue Devils. AJ Griffin, who had a rough first half going 1-7 was the hero the Blue Devils needed in the waning minutes of the second half. Griffin hit 2 huge 3 pointers to keep the Blue Devils afloat in the final 3 minutes and scored 10 of Duke’s final 13 points including 2 game clinching free throws. Trevor Keels also had a double figure effort for the Blue Devils scoring 13 and going 5-8 from the field including a nice rhythm step back jump shot early in the second half. Mark Williams didn’t have a ton of shots for the Blue Devils but did go 4-5 and scored 8 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked 4 shots.

The Blue Devils got very little production out of freshman Paolo Banchero and junior Wendell Moore, the pair combined for 3 of 16 and 5 turnovers. Banchero did assist on 5 baskets.

The Blue Devils out rebounded the Cavaliers by just 2 but were able to clean up the turnovers. In the first game in Cameron the Blue Devils turned the ball over 15 times to only 8 in this game. Where Duke had the change to pull away from Virginia was at the free throw line where the Blue Devils were a paltry 10-17 included in that were several 1 and 1 attempts.

Duke would secure the win 65-61 getting some crucial stops down the stretch and hitting some big 3’s.

The Pluses:

  • Duke avenges the loss earlier in Cameron
  • Duke Keeps their 1 game lead over Notre Same in the ACC standings
  • Blue Devils clean up their turnover issues (8).
  • Jeremy Roach who had a couple of bad games exploded for a season high
  • AJ Griffin finds his late game mojo

The Minuses:

  • Free throw shooting was atrocious 59%, Duke came in shooting 73%
  • Poor play from captain Wendell Moore and freshman Paolo Banchero
  • Duke had scoring droughts in the second half of 3:11, 2:21 and 2:09
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