No one could blame the Blue Devils for having a little extra motivation facing the Virginia Cavaliers considering what happened on February 11th in Charlottesville. Regardless, the Duke Blue Devils seemed to approach the ACC Tournament like a necessary business trip.
The young Devils moved ran through the gauntlet of older teams like they were the veterans. The Blue Devils dispatched of the Pitt Panthers in blowout fashion – never allowing the Panthers to get traction in a 30 point win. Duke did battle against the Miami Hurricanes – the most explosive team in the ACC and the #2 seed by controlling the tempo and holding a strong veteran group at bay.
Next up the #1 seed Virginia Cavaliers. Everyone that knows ACC Basketball knows Virginia and their brand of basketball. It was always going to be a rock fight but the Blue Devils began that rock fight by jumping out to a 6 point lead early and never relinquishing that lead making Virginia continue to try to play uphill was one key in this game and the Blue Devils were able to do that by creating some uncharacteristic turnovers on the Cavaliers getting themselves more opportunities on the offensive end but more importantly limiting Virginia’s opportunities. Despite Virginias tough backline defense Duke was able to win the points in the paint battle 24-20, the points off of turnovers 13-11 and the fast break points 12-6. The Blue Devils also brought their own brand of suffocating defense to the table limiting UVA to just 24% from 3 point range and 42% shooting from the field. Duke was strong defensively throughout the tournament holding their collective opponents to just 40.6% shooting and only 27.5% from beyond the arc.
Jeremy Roach in the second half with into Captain mode scoring 19 of his game high 23 points in the second half. The junior guard didn’t miss from beyond the arc going 2-2 and didn’t miss from the free throw line where he was 7-7. Rookie of the year and ACC Tournament MVP notched yet another double-double scoring 20 points on 8-17 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds and ripping 3 steals.
Despite a not great shooting night for Duke Saturday night, for the tournament Duke shot 53% from the field and 41.1% from 3 on their way to winning Duke’s 22nd conference title. Jon Scheyer becomes just the third head coach in ACC Tournament history to a win a title in his first season.
Sometimes the best way to sum up a teams performance is from the reaction of their opponent and after Duke’s victory Virginia Head Coach Tony Bennett had this to say about Duke and the job Scheyer’s done:
“I think they’re a good defensive team. They’ve really come together that way. Their length and their athleticism was real, and I think at times it sped us up, and we were at times a little bit uncharacteristic or a bit rushed.
I think they sat down and guarded, we sat down and tried to guard hard, and there just wasn’t a whole lot there. Then had a few — I thought we just missed some close ones, but I think their athleticism and length put some pressure on us, and at times we got sped up.
I think they’ve improved as the year went on and that usually happens with that kind of talent and those young guys get used to it. I told him after the game, you really had your guys ready to play, and you could see they were trending in that direction. And he and his staff have done a good job, and obviously those players, they’re disciplined and they’re guarding hard, they’re buying into that end and playing both ways. For him to — yeah, to get that team to do that in his first season, well done.”