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Trevon Duval scored just six points and had five turnovers against Virginia Saturday.

Beyond the arc: Lack of guard production concerning for Blue Devils



Duke suffered its first loss of the season to a ranked team Saturday, falling 65-63 in a heartbreaker against No. 2 Virginia. The Blue Zone gives three key takeaways and stats and looks forward for the No. 4 Blue Devils: 

Three key takeaways: 

1. Lack of guard production a concern

Duke's guard trio of Trevon Duval, Gary Trent Jr. and Grayson Allen couldn't get anything going against the Cavaliers' pack-line defense—which supposedly is more vulnerable to jump shots from the perimeter. The guards shot a putrid 8-of-26 from the floor, including 1-of-8 from deep. That won't win many games against anyone, much less Virginia.

The Blue Devils may have to accept that their guards may never take the next step and become a consistent force against top opponents, and continue to lean on Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. It's especially surprising how far Allen has dropped after dropping 37 points on Michigan State in November—he may just have to an accept a role as a Swiss Army knife-type role player as a senior captain. 

2. Team still very young, inconsistent 

Duke looked frazzled in the first half, and despite a furious rally to retake the lead in the second half, they could not make the necessary plays to seal the deal down the stretch. Trevon Duval's questionable downcourt pass late was one of a number of freshman mistakes that the Blue Devils made Saturday, putting the nail in the coffin. 

Carter and Duval also missed key free throws down the stretch, ultimately the difference in the game. Although Duke appeared strong under pressure early this season with many comebacks in the PK80 Invitational, it couldn't survive youthful mistakes like these. 

3. Bagley and Carter: unreal

Despite Duke's struggles in many facets, its two bigs were sensational, combining for 29 rebounds, while Bagley had 30 points and Carter added 14. Bagley and Carter made more 3-pointers, combining for three, though Carter could hardly be credited for his, than the guards did. Especially when they avoid foul trouble like they did Saturday, Bagley and Carter are a truly special pair of post players that have a chance to go down in Duke history. 

Three key stats: 

1. 16 turnovers

Duke turned the ball over a whopping 16 times, while the Cavaliers coughed it up just five times. Against a Virginia team that likes to slow down the tempo, the Blue Devils couldn't afford to waste possessions, but did so Saturday, leaving their death knell sounding. With five, Duval had the most turnovers, but Carter also had four. 

2. 5-of-11 from the charity stripe

The Blue Devils have been inconsistent from the line this season, and Saturday was no different. Duke shot just 45.5 percent from the line, while the Cavaliers shot nearly 80 percent in their nine tries. 

2. Allen scores five points

With Bagley as the new focal point of the offense this season, Allen's production has waned, but particularly on Saturday. Allen has only scored in double digits against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest in conference play. 

Looking forward: 

With a win at Cameron Indoor Stadium for the first time in 23 years Saturday, Virginia made it clear: it is now a legitimate national title favorite. The Cavaliers' defense has the potential to be deadly in the tournament, though the Blue Devils certainly pushed it around at times—but not consistently enough to get the job done. This game says more about Virginia than it does about Duke—the Cavaliers have a historically great defense. 

Now, for the Blue Devils, a regular-season ACC title is certainly out of the cards, but this game will certainly serve as a good learning experience. A very young team still has a good chunk of conference play and the ACC tournament to become more consistent on defense and perhaps develop more of a perimeter game on offense. 


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