Most Basketball pundits, over the past few years, have prescribed to the adage that the ACC Championship runs through Charlottesville. Saturday night the Blue Devils ran through Charlottesville and left with a sweep. Duke has embraced the road warrior mentality, R.J. Barrett when asked about Duke’s mindset before the the game, “We love road games. That’s why we wear black, because it’s their funeral”. Duke has looked unflappable on the road this season despite most college basketball writers shunning them as not worthy of their ranking due to a lack of early season true road games. Duke has answered.
Round 2 of Duke vs UVA saw both teams at full strength and both teams having won every game since meeting number 1. There was some question as to the status of Ty Jerome who had previously missed the Miami game with a strained back. Word came in late that Jerome would start the game and along with fellow guard Kyle Guy led the Hoos in scoring with 16.
The book on Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team, and rightly so, is that forcing them to shoot from the outside is a means of taking down the Blue Devils, who had been shooting under 30% in conference play. The Blue Devils began the game at John Paul Jones arena with an 8 – 0 run, catching fire from the outside. Duke started the game 5-5 from beyond the arc on their way to shooting 8 – 11 in the first half. Duke took a 14 point on the Cavaliers but UVA battled back, catching fire before the half to put the lead to 4 at halftime (39-35). In that first half the Hoos shot 5-10 from beyond the arc which is exceptional shooting but the Blue Devils were next level.
Duke was without Tre Jones in the first meeting, a 2 point win for the Blue Devils – Jones would make his presence felt on the both ends of the floor for the Devils. Jones scored 13 points, dished 7 assists, pulled down 6 rebounds and had 2 steals but the true measure of Jones’ influence on this game was in his ball pressure which cut down not only the vision of the Cavalier guards but freed up the Duke wings to shoot the passing lanes forcing the Cavaliers int0 14 turnovers which turned into 17 Duke points.
The second half saw Duke once again go up on Virginia by double digits but the Cavaliers would battle back, nipping at The Blue Devils but never getting closer than 5 points before ultimately losing by 10.
Duke’s R.J. Barrett led the charge offensively for the Blue Devils, scoring 26 points. Barrett shot 8-15 for the game, and 6-10 from beyond the arc and also pulled down 7 rebounds. Zion Williams had, for him, to be an off night with 18 points and 3 steals. The freshman forward was still able to stuff the stat sheet, pulling down 5 rebounds, dishing 5 assists and also blocking 3 shots. Cam Reddish, who has slowly come out of a shooting slump, shot 6-10 from the floor and 5-8 from beyond the arc. Reddish also had 3 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks. The Blue Devils move to 9-1 in ACC play, tied for first with rival UNC. UVA drops to 8-2 in conference play.