In the highly anticipated rematch between two of the best teams in the country, Duke came out victorious 81-71 behind key contributions from all four freshmen. The Blue Zone gives you three key takeaways, three key stats and looks at what’s to come for the streaking Blue Devils:
Three key takeaways
1. Blue Devils catch fire from deep
The Cavaliers made it clear that they would let anyone but Zion Williamson beat them in the paint. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t expect Duke to shoot over 61 percent from long range on the night. The Blue Devils were aided by some soft rims and backboards but used a steady barrage from deep to quell Virginia. R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish led the team with six and five three pointers, respectively.
2. Krzyzewski uses a short bench
For the second time this season, head coach Mike Krzyzewski only used seven players in the rotation when he decided to keep guards Alex O’Connell and Jordan Goldwire on the bench. O’Connell recorded his first DNP of the season, as four Blue Devils logged at least 36 minutes of playing time each.
3. LeBron makes an appearance
Unbeknownst to everyone but Krzyzewski, the three-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP made a quick trip to Charlottesville to check out the top five matchup before the Lakers played the 76ers the next night. Duke’s head coach said post game that James had texted him to say that he might come, and sure enough showed up with teammate Rajon Rondo.
Three key stats
An electric crowd at Virginia was silenced early, as the Blue Devils connected on their first five attempts from beyond the arc. Barrett started off with two quick ones, then Williamson and Reddish got in on the action before Barrett sank his third deep ball of the night. Reddish would miss a deep one minutes later, but the torrid start gave Duke a quick 19-9 lead at the first media timeout and the Cavaliers could never recover.
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The amount of points that Duke’s freshman quartet accounted for out of the Blue Devils’ 81 points. The young Blue Devils accounted for over 91 percent of their team’s points on the night, their third highest percentage of the season after posting 74 out of 80 points in the road win over Florida State and 66 out of 72 points in their first matchup with the Cavaliers. Marques Bolden was the biggest other contributor with five points.
The amount of time that Duke trailed on the scoreboard at John Paul Jones Arena. The Blue Devils got out to a quick 8-0 lead and never looked back. Out of their seven top 15 games this season, Duke has now led the wire to wire in three of them along with Kentucky and Auburn.
The Blue Devils will trek on through this six-game stretch that ESPN’s BPI says is the toughest stretch for any team in the country. On Tuesday the team will look to stay perfect in true road games this year when the Blue Devils travel to take on No. 16 Louisville. Then, it’s back to Cameron where they’ll welcome instate rivals N.C. State and North Carolina.