Coming off of a tough win at home against Clemson, the No. 12 Blue Devils went on the road to take on a defensively stout No. 14 Virginia team and emerged victorious thanks to second-half heroics from freshman Jayson Tatum.
Revisiting the three keys to the game:
- Knock down 3-pointers: Although the usual suspects for Duke were not themselves against the Cavaliers—Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen combined to shoot 2-of-9 from distance—several other players stepped up in their stead. Matt Jones hit his only shot from beyond the arc and Tatum was sensational, shooting 6-of-7 beyond the arc.
- Limit London Perrantes: Despite scoring 14 points on the night, Perrantes earned five at the free-throw line and ultimately, shot an inefficient 4-of-11 from the field with just one made triple. That scoring output, combined with the senior’s three turnovers made for a tough night for the Los Angeles native as Virginia's lone offensive weapon was held in check.
- Get out in transition: The Blue Devils registered two fastbreak points, instead content to work the ball around in their halfcourt set and set pace aside. Knowing that efficiency would likely help better than moving the ball haphazardly up the court, Duke stayed patient and converted on its offensive opportunities, limiting the Cavaliers to just four second-chance points.
Three key stats
- Duke shoots better than 47 percent from 3-point land: A key to breaking Virginia's vaunted defense is making shots from distance to open up paths closer to the basket. Thanks to Tatum, Jones, Kennard and Allen, Duke hit shots from distance at key opportunities to open things up in the interior as well.
- Virginia fouls 21 times: Despite playing stout defense in the paint and forcing numerous turnovers, the Cavaliers also put the Blue Devils in the bonus early in the first half and Virginia found itself fouling just to stay in the game after Tatum’s dagger with less than two minutes remaining.
- Virginia shoots 36.8 percent from the field: The Cavaliers could also not afford to have their defense compromised and their offense ineffective. The Duke defense stepped up to contest Virginia’s shots, force multiple shot clock violations and pressure both its backcourt and frontcourt into shooting tough shots following laborious possessions.
Three key plays
- Second half, 6:15 remaining: With time dwindling and the Cavaliers appearing to have snatched some momentum after coming within one on a Kyle Guy 3-pointer, Jayson Tatum answered with a critical make of his own from long range to spot the Blue Devils a 46-42 lead.
- Second half, 2:47 remaining: Tatum continued to put the team on his back down the stretch and stepped up against pressure once again. With the shot clock ticking precariously low, the St. Louis native launched another shot right in front of the Duke bench to put the Blue Devils up by seven.
- Second half, 1:56 remaining: With few possessions remaining in the game, Tatum chose the top of the key this time, and sunk his final dagger of the game—his sixth made triple—to silence the Cavaliers and the Wahoo faithful in John Paul Jones Arena, handing Duke a comfortable 10-point margin.
And the Duke game ball goes to.... Jayson Tatum
Tatum scored a career-high 28 points on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting performance from the field—including 6-of-7 shooting from distance and a perfect 6-of-6 night at the charity stripe. The highly touted freshman did everything for the Blue Devils, defending from the perimeter as well as pulling down eight critical defensive rebounds.
And the Virginia game ball goes to…. Ty Jerome
Jerome was a critical spark of the bench for the Cavaliers, scoring 13 points in 19 minutes on 5-of-8 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. The freshman from New Rochelle, N.Y., was the only Virginia player to make more than one 3-pointer as he tried to keep his team in the game throughout the second half.