No. 4 men’s basketball falls to No. 1 Duke, 72-70

The Cavaliers’ undefeated run ends at Cameron Indoor Stadium

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Redshirt sophomore De'Andre Hunter led Virginia in scoring with 18 points.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

Virginia lost to Duke in a nailbiter at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night, ending their undefeated run. The hard-fought contest had 15 lead changes.

The No. 4 Cavaliers (16-1, 4-1 ACC) fell to the No. 1 Blue Devils (15-2, 4-1 ACC) 72-70 behind 57 combined points from freshman forward Zion Williamson and freshman guard RJ Barrett.

Junior guard Kyle Guy said, “They’re easily one of the best tandems I’ve ever played against.”

The game started off back and forth with teams trading baskets.

Virginia was up 7-5, but Duke went on a 7-0 run to take a 12-7 lead with 14:16 to play in the first half, capitalized by an impressive drive by Williamson.

Guy responded with a tough lay-in, but the Blue Devils scored again on a putback by Barrett. The Blue Devils dominated the Cavaliers early and often on the offensive glass.

Redshirt sophomore forward Jay Huff provided some great energy off the bench.

Two emphatic dunks by Huff on consecutive possessions made the score 20-17 Duke with 10:41 to play in the half.

Williamson had a string of great offensive plays to extend the Blue Devils’ lead back to five points, 27-22, with 7:33 left in the first half. The freshman forward had buckets on three consecutive possessions, even as Virginia kept pace offensively.

Redshirt sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter had an outstanding first half. Just as Duke appeared to be pulling away, Hunter responded with an impressive take to the basket. He finished with 11 first-half points.

Virginia came within one point on a layup by Guy to make it 33-32 with 2:14 to play, but layups by Williamson and Barrett saw the Blue Devils go into the halftime break with a 37-32 lead.

Williamson and Barrett led all scorers in the first half with 14 points apiece, accounting for 28 of Duke’s 37 first half points.

The game continued to be a dogfight in the second half.

Junior guard Ty Jerome’s first three-pointer of the evening brought the Cavaliers within one point, 40-39 with 16:10 left in the game, but Duke junior forward Jack White responded with a dunk to restore the Blue Devils’ lead to three points.

Virginia took its first lead of the game since the first half with 14:00 left, 43-42, on a pair of free throws from junior transfer guard Braxton Key.

However, the Cavaliers struggled to stop the Blue Devils’ inside scoring. Williamson scored a tough layup to make it 48-47 Duke, but Guy responded with a take to the basket to put Virginia back on top, 49-48.

Guy finished with 14 points, although he shot poorly (2-7) from three-point range. Duke paid special attention to his prolific long-range shooting in scouting the game.

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “Guy is the closest guy to J.J. [Reddick] I’ve seen in this league.”

The teams traded baskets for multiple possessions, with no team having more than a one-point lead for a 7:37 stretch in the second half, when Barrett made a layup to put the Blue Devils up 57-55 with 7:32 to go.

Zion made a dunk with 4:51 left to put Duke up 61-58, but a layup from Hunter pushed the Blue Devils’ lead back to one point.

Duke took its biggest lead of the half on a falling away layup by Barrett to make it 65-60 Duke with 2:18 to play. The Blue Devils shot 63.2 percent from the field in the second half.

Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said, “We’re a solid defensive team, but tonight we were not solid, and that hurts.”

Two free throws by Duke junior center Marques Bolden extended the Blue Devils’ lead to seven. The Cavaliers struggled to make open shots to respond. They shot 3-17 from three on the night, just 17.6 percent.

Still, Virginia remained in the game. A three from Guy cut Duke’s lead to three, 69-66, with 23 seconds left.

But it was too little, too late for the Cavaliers. Freshman forward Cam Reddish sank two free throws to put Duke up four, and Hunter’s shot at the buzzer was not enough. Hunter led Virginia in scoring with 18 points.

The Cavaliers have a quick turnaround. They will take on Wake Forest next at John Paul Jones arena Tuesday night in an attempt to get back to their winning ways.

While it was a tough loss for Virginia, the Cavaliers certainly proved they have what it takes to play with the nation’s best.

“They’re a heck of a team,” Bennett said. “We needed to be sounder to have a chance.… We’ll grow from it.”

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