CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—Duke entered enemy territory outnumbered and shot its way out.
Playing with just eight scholarship players following the dismissal of junior Rasheed Sulaimon, the No. 4 Blue Devils fought back late in the second half to take down No. 2 Virginia 69-63 at John Paul Jones Arena Saturday night. After missing their first nine 3-point attempts of the game and trailing by as many as 11 points, the Blue Devils hit six of their last eight from long range in a furious comeback effort.
"Never give up. Basketball is a long game, and it's a game of runs—anything can happen," freshman point guard Tyus Jones said. "We always have to persevere."
Trailing 61-55 with 3:41 to play, senior guard Quinn Cook stroked a triple from the right wing. Sophomore Matt Jones added a triple of his own on the next possession. After a layup by freshman forward Justise Winslow tied the game with 2:10 to go, another deep triple by Cook with 1:19 remaining gave Duke (18-3, 5-3 in the ACC) its first lead in nearly 18 minutes.
With 10.4 seconds left, Tyus Jones added to the Blue Devils' 3-point barrage to seal the victory. Duke closed the game on a 14-2 run in the last 3:22 to hand Virginia (19-1, 7-1) its first loss of the season.
Jones found the bottom of the net with 9:39 to go in the game, giving the Blue Devils their first 3-pointer of the contest. The freshman from Apple Valley, Minn., added a gutsy three-point play with 5:08 remaining to trim Duke's deficit to six—Krzyzewski said that play kept his team in the game.
Jones finished with a game-high 17 points to lead the Blue Devils in scoring. Justise Winslow and Quinn Cook each added 15 points.
The Cavaliers utilized an extremely physical double-team when guarding Duke center Jahlil Okafor. While most teams try to push him out of the paint, Virginia often pushed Okafor as far back as the 3-point line and kept the freshman from attempting his first shot until 16:57 into the game.
Okafor finished with 10 points and nine rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting and made a number of crucial passes out of the double team to open shooters down the stretch.
"That second half—if he doesn't have that physicality, we're nowhere," Krzyzewski said.
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Trailing 58-50 with 4:48 to play, senior guard Quinn Cook stroked a 3-pointer—just Duke's second of the game—and Okafor added a putback to keep the Blue Devils within reach in the closing minutes.
Despite playing with a rotation that featured just eight scholarship players, Krzyzewski pressed his team into a high-paced assault from the game's opening tip. Countering Virginia's slow and methodical pace with a bevy of fast breaks, the Blue Devils were able to build a 22-13 lead in the first half. The Cavaliers responded with a 9-2 run sparked by six points from senior forward Darion Atkins to remain in the game.
Duke scored 10 fast break points in the first half, but managed just four throughout the rest of the game.
"Our guys really attacked the basket," Krzyzewski said. "Justise set the example of taking it hard. That was one of his best games.... We were able to push the ball up the court and get some open looks."
With the victory, Duke's week ends amid a roller coaster of emotions. Sunday, the Blue Devils were in New York, giving Krzyzewski the 1,000th victory of his coaching career with a double-digit comeback in the second half. Duke made the trip to South Bend, Ind., Wednesday, surrendering a 10-point second-half lead to the No. 8 Fighting Irish and losing. Thursday marked Sulaimon's dismissal—the first by Krzyzewski in his 35-year tenure. Saturday was a third road trip, needing a late shooting barrage to topple previously undefeated Virginia.
Needless to say, the Blue Devils are exhausted and finally have the chance to regroup before Wednesday's conference tilt against Georgia Tech.
"It's just been a hell of a week for us," Krzyzewski said. "For our guys to have the wherewithal and the toughness to win tonight says a lot about our team."