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Still atop polls, Duke shoots to rebound

Last season, after suffering a disappointing loss in Winston-Salem, Duke struggled to regain any kind of momentum, losing three of its next eight games en route to another early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 1 Blue Devils (18-2, 5-1 in the ACC) hope to avoid a similar fate this season, and will attempt to regroup from its Wednesday loss to Wake Forest Sunday against Virginia (7-9, 1-4) at 2 p.m. in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

On Wednesday, Duke struggled all game long, trailing by as many as 13 points in the second half. The Blue Devils mounted a furious comeback, only to watch the Demon Deacons' James Johnson hit a game-winning layup with 0.8 seconds left to hand Duke its first loss in conference play and snap its 10-game winning streak.

Despite becoming the fourth top-ranked team to lose this month, the Blue Devils know that they have to learn from the loss and move on.

"We didn't want to be a team that had to lose to learn a lesson," senior Dave McClure said. "It's something that we're gonna get better from."

One of the things Duke will look to improve against the Cavaliers is its 3-point shooting. Against Wake Forest, the Blue Devils shot a dismal 4-of-22 from long range, which was part of the reason why the loss Wednesday marked Duke's worst-shooting game of the season.

Both of Duke's losses this year-the Blue Devils went down 81-73 at Michigan Dec. 6-have coincided with poor shooting from beyond the arc, which has limited the Blue Devils' offensive output. Against the Wolverines, Duke finished just 7-of-33 from 3-point land.

Despite being outplayed for most of the contest by the Demon Deacons, Duke can take solace in the fact that it showed toughness and grit toward the end of the game. Behind Kyle Singler and Gerald Henderson, who combined for 42 points, the Blue Devils clawed their way back into the game on a 20-7 run in which Duke showed more aggressiveness and intensity than it had during the rest of the game.

The Blue Devils hope to play with that same attack-first mindset for 40 minutes Sunday, and on paper, Duke should not have any trouble scoring points against a Virginia team that is near the bottom of the ACC standings. After losing their leading scorer, Sean Singletary, to graduation, the Cavaliers have not really recovered. They have yet to win a road game this year, and their only conference victory was an overtime win over last-place Georgia Tech.

A game against one of the ACC's bottom teams might be just what Duke needs to get back to playing the way they did during their long winning streak.

"We obviously can't forget about this game [Wake Forest], but we can't forget about what we did to get here," McClure said.


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